- Eliminating the pea flavor in pea protein
- Best Pea Protein Smoothie Recipes
- Vegan Almond Chia Smoothie Recipe
- Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie Recipe
- Strawberry Pea Protein Shake Recipe
- What’s the Deal with Pea Protein and Should You Give It a Try?
- What are the benefits of protein powder?
- Joy Full Eats: Power up your mornings with protein-packed apple pancakes
- What is whey protein?
- Benefits of whey
- Side effects of whey
- Is Protein Powder Good For You?
- Thank you!
- Top 5 Alternatives to Whey Protein
- Similar articles
- Why consider a whey protein powder alternative?
- The 9 Best Whey Protein Alternatives
- 1. Vegan and vegetarian protein powder
- 2. Lactose-free protein powder
- 3. Organic protein powder
- 4. Hemp protein powder
- 5. Pea protein powder
- 6. Brown rice protein powder
- 7. Soy protein powder
- 8. Egg white protein powder
- 9. Casein protein powder
- Take home message
- Alternatives to Whey Protein for Vegans and the Lactose-intolerant
- 5 Reasons You Should Rethink Pea Protein Powder (Brought to You by Ample)
- 1. Pea Protein Is Really High Quality
- 2. Pea Builds Muscle as Efficiently as Whey
- 3. Pea Digests Easily
- 4. Antinutrients Aren’t That Big a Deal
- 5. Pea Protein May Confer Other Health Benefits
- Wrapping Up
- What’s the Difference?
- How Does Pea Protein Compare to Whey?
- But Does Pea Protein Work?
- So Which Kind Of Protein Powder Should You Buy?
- 12 Reasons Pea Protein is Great For Your Health
- 1. It’s a rich source of lysine
- 2. Your allergies will thank you
- 3. It’s naturally gluten free
- 4. It’s easier on the stomach
- 5. It’s rich in plant-based iron
- 6. It’s a low glycemic food
- 7. It low-carb friendly
- 8. Your muscles will love the BCAAs
- 9. It’s sky high in arginine
- 10. It’s low-FODMAP friendly
- 11. It contains mega magnesium
- 12. It’s naturally cholesterol and saturated fat free
Eliminating the pea flavor in pea protein
KANSAS CITY — Pea protein has its advantages when compared to other plant protein sources. It may be lower in cost and non-G.M.O. Pea protein, however, also may have specific taste issues that are easy to describe.
“They taste like peas,” said Paulette Lanzoff, technical director for Synergy Flavors, which has a U.S. office in Wauconda, Ill. “If you try to make a vanilla shake or a strawberry-flavored shake with something that tastes like peas, it’s a little bit of a challenge. They’ve done a lot of things to clean up the pea protein (flavor). We’re getting a much cleaner profile with it, but there’s still a lot of vegetative notes that come through. We’ve really got to modify flavors to get them just right for the end application.”
Modifying or masking the pea protein flavor may allow for its use in shakes, bars and baked foods. Sweeteners, flavors and other plant protein sources may assist in such masking.
A 2017 study from GlobalData Plc revealed the growing awareness of pea protein, which increased to 47% in 2017 from 38% in 2015, said Tom Vierhile, innovations insight director for GlobalData. While 18% of respondents in 2017 said they did not know what pea protein is, the percentage was 30% in 2015.
People may describe pea protein’s flavor in unflattering terms. Common descriptors are grassy, beany, earthy, bitter and chalky, said Ryan Loy, Ph.D., assistant principal scientist at Chromocell Corp., North Brunswick, N.J. Chromocell owns FlavorHealth, which offers ways to mask flavors. A ProteinBrite system from FlavorHealth mitigates off-tastes from plant proteins, Dr. Loy said.
“This solution offers companies in the wellness and nutrition field the ability to add essential micronutrients or plant proteins to their products without compromising on great tastes across their product lines,” Dr. Loy said.
The quantity of pea protein in a sports/nutritional drink or a protein bar may be the primary challenge, said David Bom, Ph.D., technology development manager – beverage flavors, North America for Sensient Flavors, Milwaukee.
“Dosages can range from 10 grams to 30 grams per serving,” he said. “That is a large amount of bitter stimuli for any taste-masking system to overcome.”
Low-calorie or zero-calorie sweeteners may be used to mask flavors in pea protein applications, but that strategy may bring bitter, metallic off-notes.
“This is where we can leverage our taste modulations technology, which excels at masking the off-notes associated with these products, making them much more palatable,” Dr. Bom said.
Applications where the protein is bound, even during mastication, tend to be more palatable than applications where the protein is more available to the taste buds, including beverages, shakes or yogurt, he said.
How pea protein fares in shakes may depend on the flavor of the shake.
“We can do a really good job of pea protein in vanilla and chocolate and the sweet brown flavors, but some of the fruity flavors are a little bit more of a challenge, strawberry in particular,” Ms. Lanzoff said.
In baked foods, pea protein pairs well with a sweet, brown flavor that may be used in cookies, muffins or cakes, she said.
Besides its flavor, pea protein comes with an aroma that consumers may not like. Vanilla might solve the issue.
“You’d want a very aromatic french vanilla profile — spice notes rather than a plain standard vanilla flavor that you’d use in whey protein,” Ms. Lanzoff said.
Other plant protein sources may be used in masking pea protein’s flavor to give the finished product a more balanced flavor profile, Ms. Lanzoff said. Almonds, macadamia nuts and pumpkin are options.
Pea proteins may have issues with astringency and bitterness, but Cargill’s pea protein is different, said Paige Ties, technical service manager, research and development, for Minneapolis-based Cargill.
“It’s sourced from non-G.M.O. yellow pea seed varieties specially selected to minimize the off-flavors normally attributed to pulses,” she said. “In addition, it’s processed without chemicals to bring out the best flavor possible.”
Best Pea Protein Smoothie Recipes
With its unique, distinct taste, pea protein can sometimes be a tough ingredient for any smoothie. However, for those who want a great vegan protein with a spectacular amino acid profile, pea protein is tough to beat.
Some people complain that a plant-based protein doesn’t does taste like a whey protein shake, for example. This is because plant-based protein has a totally different consistency than a milk-based protein. Instead of becoming sticky when you add liquid to them, plant-based proteins absorb the liquid. This means that protein foods made with veggie powders seldom become rubbery or dry, like milk-based proteins tend to do. Instead, plant-based proteins retain a lot of moisture, which lends great body to cakes, muffins, and breads.
Before you dive right into baking with plant-based proteins, here are some great pea protein recipes to try out first.
Vegan Almond Chia Smoothie Recipe
1 banana (better frozen)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon chia seeds
¾ cup almond milk
1 scoop pea protein
Crushed ice to taste
Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie Recipe
1/2 scoop rice protein powder
1 scoop pea protein
1 tsp maca
1 tbsp cacao
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
Ice and almond milk to taste
Strawberry Pea Protein Shake Recipe
1 cup of fresh sweet uncut strawberries
1 cup of 1% low fat milk
1 scoop of pea protein powder
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sweetener and salt to taste
What’s the Deal with Pea Protein and Should You Give It a Try?
Photo: kostrez /
As plant-based eating becomes more and more popular, alternative protein sources have been flooding the food market. From quinoa and hemp to sacha inchi and chlorella, there are almost too many to count. You may have seen pea protein amongst these popular plant-based protein alternatives, but still be a bit confused about how on Earth peas could ever be an adequate source of protein.
Here, experts give the scoop on this nutrient-dense little powerhouse. Read on for all the pros and cons of pea protein and why it’s worth your attention-even if you’re not vegan or plant-based.
Why Pea Protein Is Popping
“Thanks to its shelf-stable, easy-to-add appeal, pea protein is easily becoming a trendy, economical, sustainable, and nutrient-rich protein source,” says registered dietitian Sharon Palmer. Sure enough, it’s making its way inside protein powders, shakes, supplements, plant-based milk, and veggie burgers.
For example, mainstream brands like Bolthouse Farms are hopping on the pea protein bandwagon. Tracy Rossettini, director of research and development for Bolthouse Farms, says the brand chose to incorporate pea protein in the brand’s new yellow pea–derived Plant Protein Milk because it delivers on consumer desire for taste, calcium, and protein-minus the dairy. She says it has 10 grams of protein per serving (compared to 1g of protein in almond milk), 50 percent more calcium than dairy milk, and is fortified with vitamin B12 (which can be hard to get enough of if you’re on a vegan or plant-based diet).
Ripple Foods, a dairy-free milk company, makes products exclusively with pea milk. Adam Lowry, co-founder of Ripple, explains that his company was drawn to peas because they’re actually more sustainable than almonds, as they use less water and produce fewer CO2 emissions. The company includes pea protein in their pea milk and non-dairy Greek-style yogurt, which feature up to 8 and 12 grams of pea protein per serving, respectively.
And this is just the beginning: A recent market report conducted by Grand View Research suggests that the global pea protein market size in 2016 was $73.4 million-a number that’s projected to rise exponentially by 2025.
Rossettini agrees and says that pea protein is just part of the booming growth of the non-dairy market as a whole: “According to recent data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), the non-dairy milk segment is expected to grow to $4 Billion by 2020,” she says. (Not totally surprising, considering there are tons of delicious non-dairy milk options available now.)
The Benefits of Pea Protein
Why is pea protein worth your attention? The Journal of Renal Nutrition reports that pea protein offers some legit health benefits. For one, it’s not derived from any of the eight most common allergenic foods (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, and wheat), which are often used to create protein supplements-meaning it’s a safe option for people with various dietary restrictions. Preliminary studies also show that pea protein intake can actually reduce blood pressure in hypertensive rats and humans, according to the report. One potential reason: Because pea protein is often derived mechanically from ground yellow split peas (versus chemical separation, often used for soy and whey proteins), it retains more soluble fiber, which ultimately has a positive effect on cardiovascular health. (Here’s more about the different types of fiber and why it’s so good for you.)
Even though whey has long been held as the king of all protein supplements, pea protein is rich in essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids, making it a great supplement for muscle building and maintenance, says physician and nutrition expert Nancy Rahnama, M.D. Science backs it up: A study conducted by The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition also found that in a group of people consuming protein supplements in combination with resistance training, pea protein elicited just as much muscle thickness gains as whey. (See: Could Vegan Protein Be Just As Effective As Whey for Building Muscle?)
In fact, when it comes to digestion, pea protein may even have a leg up on whey: “Pea protein may be better tolerated than whey protein, as it does not have any dairy in it,” Dr. Rahnama. If you’re one of many people who experience bloating (or stinky protein farts) after downing some whey protein, pea might be a better option for you, she says.
“Another benefit of pea protein is that plant-based diets have been linked to a number of health benefits,” says registered dietitian Lauren Manaker. This means lower cholesterol, lower hemoglobin A1c levels (a measure of your average blood sugar level), and better blood glucose control, she explains.Indeed, pea protein may help reduce blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.
Some Downsides Worth Considering
“The obvious downside of pea protein is that it does not have a complete profile of 100 percent of the amino acids you need,” says oncology-certified dietitian Chelsey Schneider. FYI, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. While your body can make some of them, you need to consume others through food, she says. Those are called essential amino acids. (There are nine: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.) Animal-based proteins (meat, fish, or dairy) typically contain all these essential amino acids and are therefore called complete proteins, she explains.
Some plant foods (like quinoa) contain all essential amino acids, but most (like pea protein) do not, and thus are not complete proteins, says Schneider. An easy fix? Combine different plant-based protein sources that have complementary amino acids to ensure you get all the ones you need. For example, Schneider recommends adding in extras like chia, flax, or hemp seeds. (Here’s a guide to vegan protein sources.)
If you’re on a low-carb diet (like the keto diet), heads up: “Peas are an okay source of protein, but it’s also a bit high in carbs for a vegetable,” says registered dietitian Vanessa Rissetto. One cup of peas has about 8 grams of protein and 21 grams of carbs, she says. This is a drastic difference compared to broccoli, which only has 10 grams of carbs and 2.4 grams of protein per cup.
How to Pick the Right Pea Protein Powder
To make sure you’re buying a quality pea protein, get one that’s organic, says registered nutritionist Tara Allen. That ensures it’ll be non-GMO and will contain fewer pesticides.
She also recommends checking your nutrition labels carefully, as you’ll want to choose a brand with the least number of ingredients. Keep an eye out for and avoid excess fillers (like carrageenan), added sugar, dextrin or maltodextrin, thickeners (like xanthan gum), and any artificial colorings, she says.
“When looking for a high-quality pea protein powder, it’s also wise to avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium,” says registered dietitian Britni Thomas. Stevia, on the other hand, is a safe sweetener unless you are sensitive to it, she says.
Although peas aren’t a complete protein on their own, many brands will add the missing amino acids or blend pea protein with other plant-based proteins to create a complete protein supplement: Check the right-hand side of the nutrition label on the bottle and make sure that all nine essential amino acids are listed, says Dr. Rahnama.
Regardless of what kind of protein you’re using, remember: It’s still important to consume protein as part of balanced meals throughout the day. “It’s always best to get as much of your nutrition as possible from whole foods and just utilize supplements to fill in the gaps,” says Allen. “There are many ways you can incorporate pea protein into your day.” Try mixing it into smoothies, healthy muffins, oatmeal, and even pancakes.
- By By Courtney Leiva
What are the benefits of protein powder?
Protein is one of the building blocks of bone, muscle, and skin. The body needs it to produce hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals.
The possible health benefits of protein powders include the following:
Share on PinterestThere are various types of protein powder available for use.
Eating protein-rich foods and taking supplements may help people feel fuller for longer. Feeling full tends to result in smaller portion sizes and less frequent snacking, which can help a person maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if necessary.
A 2017 review reported that supplementing with whey protein might reduce body weight and total fat mass in people who are overweight or obese.
It may also reduce blood pressure, total cholesterol, and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
Protein is essential for muscle growth. Many athletes and gym enthusiasts consume protein shakes because they believe that these drinks will help them bulk up after strength training.
A 2018 analysis of 49 studies supports the use of protein supplementation for this purpose. The research suggests that protein supplements significantly improve muscle size and strength in healthy adults who perform resistance exercise training, such as lifting weights.
Protein supplementation was equally effective in men and women. However, the effectiveness may decrease with age, as older adults have higher protein requirements than younger people.
The researchers also noted that once protein exceeded 1.6 grams (g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight (or 0.73 g per pound (lb) of body weight), the participants did not experience any additional benefits.
Recovery after exercise
As well as contributing to muscle growth, protein can help repair damaged muscles and tissues. As a result, athletes may use protein powder to speed up recovery from muscle soreness after exercise.
Many studies report that taking protein supplements after exercise can aid recovery by reducing muscle damage and improving muscle performance and muscle protein synthesis.
The recommended daily intake of protein for people aged 19 years and over is 46 g for women and 56 g for men.
People who find it challenging to meet these amounts, possibly including some vegans and vegetarians, may find that protein powder offers an easy solution to the problem.
Athletes, weight lifters, older adults, and people with a chronic illness may need to exceed the general protein intake recommendation.
Research shows that athletes with an intense training regimen may benefit from having about twice the daily recommended intake of protein, ranging from 1.4 to 2.0 g per kg of body weight. This is equivalent to 111–159 g per day for a person who weighs 175 lb.
Whey protein has been a favorite supplement among gym goers for a long time and is still a go-to source of smoothie protein in the wellness world. But even if you’re a fan, do you know what it actually is and how it may affect your body differently than other types of protein?
There are a few things everyone should know about whey.
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What is whey protein?
Whey protein is one of two categories of proteins found in dairy (along with casein) and is a byproduct of cheese and yogurt production. Basically, you start with liquid milk and strain out the curds for cheese or yogurt, leaving whey behind.
Once it’s processed, whey protein is usually sold as a powder on its own, or mixed into smoothie powders and drink mixes that also contain other nutrients. It’s used as a supplement to address malnutrition and protein deficiencies or most often in an effort to increase athletic performance and improve body composition.
Before being absorbed in the body, the large fractions of protein are broken down by the body’s digestive enzymes into amino acids. Amino acids are then pieced back together in different combinations to make new proteins the body will use to build muscle, enzymes, hormones and other substances needed for structure and function.
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Whey protein supplies all nine essential amino acids and is particularly high in leucine and cysteine. Protein sources that provide leucine are thought to be the strongest determinant of muscle protein synthesis and growth, which is why it is the preferred choice for most gym goers.
You’ll find whey protein sold as whey protein or as whey protein isolate. The isolate type means that it has gone through further concentration to isolate the protein even more. This makes it slightly higher in protein, but also lower in certain nutrients, including fat.
Benefits of whey
Whey protein is known to have a relatively high biological value, meaning that the amino acids found within it are more efficiently used by the body than other proteins. This is huge, because if you eat healthy foods your body can’t use, it’s a total waste of time.
Research has suggested that consuming whey following resistance training could result in enhanced muscle function and decreased muscle recovery time.
Another small study done on college-aged males suggested that ingestion of 48 grams of whey protein isolate three days a week for eight weeks resulted in increased lean body mass, muscle mass, strength and power, as well as a decrease in overall fat mass.
Other studies however, have shown no specific benefits. Of course, protein after a super intense workout, in general, is a good idea.
Side effects of whey
If muscle growth is your goal, a study done on rats showed that exercise, when supplemented with whey protein, resulted in higher weight and muscle gain when compared to exercise without whey protein supplementation. This can be seen as negative or positive depending upon your goals.
Whey protein has also been linked to stomach discomfort including bloating. You can pair whey protein with a digestive enzyme, which will assist in breaking it down further so that your body is better able to digest and absorb the necessary nutrients and naturally occurring amino acids, which may help reduce bloating.
It’s important to remember, regardless of supplementing with whey or another form of protein, that unless you are lacking in protein in your diet or are recovering from a workout and need a quick source of protein, the supplement may not have benefits.
When choosing a whey protein, look for products made with organic, grass-fed whey. Think about it: Whey comes from milk, so just like you’d choose milk from happy, healthy cows, you want your whey to come from a quality source.
For more tips on how to live a nutritious life, follow Keri on Instagram @nutritiouslifeofficial.
Is Protein Powder Good For You?
Protein seems to be the nutrient du jour. Humans need it to help repair cells and encourage healthy growth and development, and it’s plentiful in eggs, quinoa, chicken and fish.
Now, regular foods aren’t the only places you’ll find it. There are also a wide variety of protein powders—whey, hemp, soy, pea and more—that you can add to foods that wouldn’t otherwise have the nutrient in high quantities, like smoothies and shakes. Even high-protein ice cream is now a thing.
But is getting protein from a powder just as good for you as getting it from whole foods?
In the ways that count most, the answer is no. “I work from a foods-first philosophy,” says Nancy Rodriguez, professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. “There are bioactive ingredients in foods that we can’t duplicate , but we know are helpful.”
Eating a food that is naturally high in protein tends to also provide other nutrients a person might need, says Rodriguez. “When I see people only eating egg whites for protein, I tell them to also eat the yolk for vitamins A and B,” she says.
MORE: Why You Need to Stop Eating Egg Whites
Other nutrients aside, the protein itself might not be the same quality in powder as it is in food. Protein provides people with the nine essential amino acids that the human body doesn’t make itself. While some protein powders contain the full amino acid profile, not every type has high enough amounts to meet a person’s needs, or even all of the amino acids. In general, animal-based protein powders—like whey, casein or egg white protein—are more complete than non-animal based ones.
Supplementing protein is not even necessary for average American adult, who gets 15% of all calories from protein. That fits well within the government’s recommendation to get 10% to 35% of daily calories from protein, so there’s no need for most people to add more.
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Powdered proteins do come with a major pro: they’re convenient. That might be especially helpful for athletes and people who exercise frequently, since eating protein and carbohydrates after working out is important for recovery. Protein helps build and repair muscle, and carbs help people refuel and replace depleted sugars.
It’s easier to grab a protein smoothie at the gym than to put together a salad or sandwich. Protein powder isn’t more likely than natural protein to help you build muscle, but it can cut down on time in the kitchen.
MORE: You Asked: What Happens If I Don’t Eat Enough Protein?
Just don’t expect a trimmer physique or better health overnight merely from adding protein. Rodriguez says that people often add protein to their diet in the form of supplements and powders with the expectation that it will magically make a difference. “Protein adds calories, and just eating it does not mean you are going to gain muscle,” says Rodriguez. “It should be paired with an exercise program.”
“The bottom line is that when you get protein from whole foods, you are getting extra micronutrients and fiber that contribute to a healthy diet,” says Rodriguez. “It’s a more complete nutrient package.”
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Top 5 Alternatives to Whey Protein
Vitacost Product Experts August 14, 2014 Ask the Experts , Sports and Fitness , Sports Nutrition Email Print Twitter Pinterest Facebook
This post was most recently updated on November 10th, 2016
It’s safe to say that protein powder isn’t just for bodybuilders anymore. The health benefits of a high-protein diet have become more and more apparent for all body types and fitness levels. But with all the options out there, deciding which type of protein powder to take can be quite confusing – especially since many modern diets strive to avoid dairy products or prefer to steer clear of animal products altogether. Why is this an issue? Because for a while, protein powders were almost exclusively made with whey protein, which is derived from cow’s milk.
But the rise of specialty diets created a high demand for new breeds of protein – from gluten-free formulas to purely plant-based protein sources. Now, the possibilities are nearly endless – but which one is right for you?
What are the health benefits of protein?
“Protein” isn’t just a line on a nutrition labels or something only meatheads obsess over. It’s actually part of our DNA and plays a role in nearly every bodily function. Proteins are whole molecules, which are comprised of several different amino acids. Each amino acid plays a different role – we literally cannot live without them. Adequate amino acid levels are necessary to keep our bodies’ systems healthy. In addition to this, there are nine amino acids (known as the essential amino acids), which we don’t produce and can only be obtained through our diets. You’ll often hear the term “complete” protein. Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids.
Is a protein powder really necessary?
While your diet doesn’t need to be particularly high in protein, it’s very important that you consume an adequate amount. For restrictive or allergen-friendly diets, this might be difficult. While various nuts, legumes and grains contain decent amounts of protein, diets calling for little to no meat can certainly benefit from supplementing with a flavorful powder. Keep in mind that a protein powder is not used as a replacement for real food (nothing trumps whole food!). But powders can certainly help balance our nutrition, especially when we’re pinched for time.
High-quality protein powders are isolated from their food sources and are generally low in fat and carbohydrates. For those of us who are in the gym and looking to build muscle or create definition, a little extra protein goes a long way!
So what types of protein are there?
Scroll through the list below for the top five non-GMO, gluten- and lactose-free alternatives to whey protein.
1. Hemp protein
The king of all plant sources, hemp is a complete protein, containing adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids. It also has an impressive amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), making it ideal for lean muscle growth and recovery. Hemp is an excellent source of both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to heart and joint health. To top it all off, hemp protein doesn’t need any additives or preservatives thanks to its naturally delicious, nutty flavor.*
2. Pea protein
Pea protein is the second best plant source. With 20-25 grams of protein per scoop, pea protein rivals whey in potency. It has also gained recent popularity for its weight-management benefits. Popular TV doctors have suggested that pea protein helps us stay full between meals. It also mixes easily and has an excellent BCAA content, making it a perfect choice for a post-workout protein shake.
3. Egg white protein powder
Egg white protein powder is known for being incredibly bioavailable. This means that it’s extremely easy for our bodies to absorb and there is often little to no waste. Furthermore, egg whites are naturally free of fat and cholesterol and are very low in calories. They are also a complete protein, and contain a very high BCAA content (even higher than whey!). Jay Robb’s egg white protein is non-GMO and derived from chickens not treated with growth hormones.
4. Brown rice protein
With nearly 25 grams of protein per scoop (or 12 grams per tablespoon), rice protein is another great option that gives whey a run for its money. Like egg and hemp, rice protein is also a complete protein. It’s well known for its excellent iron content, containing over 10% Daily Value per one tablespoon. There are often concerns that rice protein will contain many carbohydrates due to its source. The protein is entirely isolated, however, and contains only 2 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon – and zero fat, to boot!
5. Plant protein blends
Can’t decide which one is right for you? Perhaps a blend of proteins is the perfect match. Sunwarrior offers a unique mix of protein from peas, hemp seeds and even cranberries. This protein has become quite popular among vegan and non-vegan dieters alike. Users love this blend, because it provides only 100 calories per scoop, is easily digestible and packed with nutrients… plus, it has a great taste.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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Why consider a whey protein powder alternative?
For many gym goers, weightlifters, athletes and the health and diet- conscious among us, whey supplementation is synonymous with protein as if it is the only option available.
Whey protein is just one option, which derives from milk, along with casein. Whey is created in the production of cheese, from the liquid whey that remains when curds come together. When whey protein is made the whey liquid is processed and refined to separate the proteins from the fats and lactose, and then dried to produce a powder. Whey protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, making a great and very popular go-to for protein supplementation.
But there are others that may suit allergies and fulfil certain dietary requirements such as vegan and vegetarian bodybuilders.
The 9 Best Whey Protein Alternatives
- Brown rice
- Egg white
1. Vegan and vegetarian protein powder
First up is vegan protein powder, a blend that contains protein derived from plant-based sources. Myprotein’s tri-blend of pea protein, brown rice protein and hemp protein combines these top sources of BCAAs (the building blocks of protein, which add to the structure of your new muscle tissues). Along with these essential amino acids, this specially vegan- tailored product packs a whopping 22g of protein.
2. Lactose-free protein powder
One of the most common concerns for gainers trying to get their daily recommendation of protein is lactose. As the mighty whey derives from milk and cheese, lactose intolerant folk and those of us simply wishing to avoid lactose-containing products in our diets. As with the average vegan and vegetarian protein powders, your answer is to seek out a plant or egg-based proteins including brown rice, hemp and pea protein powders. The good news is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn the protein per serving content rivals that of whey.
3. Organic protein powder
Have you gone organic? Organ protein powders are the way forward for anyone looking to avoid artificial ingredients, soy or sweeteners. Our Organic Whey Protein is created in strictly controlled, certified organic dairies in which cows are able to live as naturally as possible. The cows are fed on rich, green pastures and the whey is ultra- filtered, providing 20g of protein per serving.
4. Hemp protein powder
Hemp is considered the most popular of the plant-based proteins, featuring a substantial amount of the nine essential amino acids, making it perfect for the development of lean muscle and recovery.
Further to this is its high content of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which you usually get from foods such as fish. Again, good news for vegetarians, as these massively contribute to the wellbeing of your heart and joints. Our 100% Hemp Protein Powder also doesn’t come with unnecessary additives.
5. Pea protein powder
Pea Protein Isolate contains around 23g of protein per scoop, making it a real contender in the absence of whey. It is also known to help with weight management for anyone looking to cut body fat because of its ability to leave you feeling more ‘full’ between meals.
6. Brown rice protein powder
Brown Rice Protein features 23g of protein per serving and rice gives those of us avoiding whey a great option that suits vegetarians and vegans. It is also chock full of iron, providing you 10 percent of your daily recommendation in just one tablespoon.
You may usually think of rice as a source of carbs, but it’s good news for anyone looking to limit their carb intake as brown rice protein is isolated, containing only 2g of carbs per tablespoon.
7. Soy protein powder
Soy protein powder is just as effective as many animal-based proteins. It is also a great source of protein for anyone looking to trim fat. Soybeans are a legume that are naturally high in protein and also fairly low in fat. Soybean meal is processed into soy protein isolate, which consists of around 90 to 95 percent protein. This process minimises fats and carbs. Our Soy Protein Isolate packs a mighty 27g of protein per serving!
8. Egg white protein powder
Egg whites are widely known as a top dietary source of protein for building muscle. Egg protein is highly bioavailable, meaning that your body (namely muscles) use more of it when it is digested. It is also higher in branched chain amino acids (BCAAs)—6.7g of BCAA compared to the 5.5g you get from whey. Egg white protein powder is also naturally free of fat and carbs.
9. Casein protein powder
Casein, like whey, is a product of milk. The foremost benefit of casein is its ability to keep you satiated (feeling full). It is a slow-digesting protein, which makes it perfect for taking last thing at night to ward off cravings and avoid that eight hour fast when you sleep. The benefit of this is greater muscle retention and fat loss.
Take home message
It’s important to remember, particularly for vegans, vegetarians or those trying to reduce the amount of animal products in their diet, that whey is not the be all and end all for protein supplementation. There are plenty of plant and egg-based powders out there with an equally high protein content.
Alternatives to Whey Protein for Vegans and the Lactose-intolerant
Whether you are consciously opting not to consume animal products or you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, you may find yourself stuck at a crossroads when it comes to choosing the right protein supplement.
Supplementation can support your nutrition levels well by enhancing recovery and supporting all-round wellbeing. Prior to supplementation, it is vital to ensure most of your diet is being fulfilled with whole foods.
Whey protein is derived from cows’ milk and is the most popular form of protein in the sports nutrition and supplements market. Whey protein offers a complete amino acid profile, which are the building blocks of muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. Whey protein also boasts low levels of carbohydrates and fats, meaning the high protein levels of whey ensure your body draws its energy from excess fat stores, aiding in weight loss and suppressing hunger. With whey protein’s impressive benefits, it may seem difficult to find a dairy-free protein powder right for you. To help, we’ve investigated the benefits and convenience of plant-based proteins for the ecologically conscious and the intolerant.
What does it mean to be lactose-intolerant?
If you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, this essentially means the sugars found in dairy products (most commonly cows’ milk) cannot be digested properly in your body. Digestion of dairy becomes difficult for the lactose-intolerant because of symptoms such as bloating, fluctuance, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms occur due to insufficient stores of the gut enzyme lactase, which is found in the lining of the small intestine. The lack of lactase means that it is very difficult for the milk sugars to be converted into absorbable compounds and therefore the lactose remains undigested as it continues into the large intestine. The large intestine contains a lot of bacteria, which aids in breaking down our food. The bacteria converts lactose partially into acids and gases, which prompts wind, bloating and pain in the lactose-intolerant. For lactose-intolerant people, rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream, lactose attracts water molecules, resulting in watery faeces.
The severity of lactose intolerance varies with each individual, as does the amount of lactose in different dairy products. For example, hard and matured cheese such as Cheddar, mozzarella, and brie, contain little to no lactose and can be consumed by people with lactose intolerance.
It is advised not to eliminate dairy products from your diet entirely, instead, interchange the types of food containing lactose. For example, your lunch meal can include a light cheese and you can still include cows’ milk in your daily coffee.
Milk and other dairy foods are an important source of calcium, which is essential for supporting bone health. So, if you are lactose-intolerant, consider trialing which foods cause a reaction and which are fine to eat without discomfort. According to the Food Intolerance Institute of Australia 67-75%, or two in three Australians, have a dairy intolerance. Such a high percentage of people with lactose intolerances lends itself to many of our favourite supermarket brands being conscious of lactose present in their products. The milk industry has also increased its efforts by offering lactose-free options that contain only small traces of lactose, which have already been broken down prior to consumption. It is advised to avoid most packaged goods in the supermarket if you are lactose intolerant. This is because most processed foods such as pre-packaged cakes, biscuits, cheese sauces, and soups contain lactose. Often lactose isn’t explicitly listed in these products’ ingredients lists, instead, they list grouped ingredients such as ‘milk solids’. It is safe to eliminate all pre-packaged processed goods that include ‘milk solids’ as lactose is always present in this ingredient grouping.
What does it mean to be vegan?
Many people choose to lead a lifestyle which minimises the number of animal products they use or consume for dietary intolerances and/or conscious ecological reasons. It is important to define the specifics of being a vegan as, when it comes to choosing the correct protein supplements, every ingredient matters.
A vegan is someone who establishes a way of living that seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation and cruelty of animals through the means of food, clothing and other lifestyle choices (for example, cleaning products). One thing that all vegans have in common is the choice to follow a plant-based diet that avoids all animal foods including meat, fish, insects, dairy, eggs, and honey. You can look at veganism either in terms of what it excludes or what it includes regarding diet. Although vegetables and fruits are the substance of a vegan diet, this does not mean that taking protein powders is unnecessary.
Plant-based proteins are the ideal alternatives for vegans and dairy-intolerant people who are looking to increase their protein intake for health and/or training. The most obvious benefit of plant-based proteins is that plant-based proteins are derived only from plants and therefore doesn’t involve any animal by-products or produce. Plant-based proteins are also hypoallergenic, which means your gut is very unlikely to have a negative reaction.
The human body contains 11 amino acids but must receive another nine from foods. Animal products are complete proteins, which means they contain all nine required amino acids. It is harder to receive all the amino acids necessary when following a plant-based diet, however, a dairy-intolerant or vegan individual should actively try to eat a varied diet of plant-based foods to equip their body with the correct levels of amino acids.
Plant-based ingredients can be excellent sources of protein with many products such as soybeans, tofu, nuts, seeds and quinoa reaping the benefits of complete proteins containing all nine essential amino acids required for muscle development, repair and growth.
It is important to discuss dietary exclusions and portions with your health care practitioner or nutritionist to ensure your intake of protein is adequate. Learning how to effectively supplement your diet without animal products is essential.
Vegan 85 – what can it do for me?
True Protein’s Vegan 85 is a dairy-free protein blend with a rich amino acid profile (organic compounds that bond together to form proteins in food) thanks to the combination of pea and brown rice protein. Vegan 85 is derived from 100% plant-based sources including pea protein sourced from Belgium and organic brown rice protein from the US. At True Protein, we pride ourselves on sourcing the highest quality ingredients with no added preservatives, artificial colours or flavours. True Protein’s Pea Protein Isolate contains similar levels of protein per same-sized serving as whey and casein protein but has no cholesterol, gluten, fat or lactose. Pea Protein Isolate, although rich in key muscle-building amino acids such as leucine, is deficient in cystine. True Protein’s Brown Rice protein has an 80% protein content per serve but is lacking in the amino acid lysine. Combining the two proteins provides a complete amino acid profile, which will fulfill your daily protein needs with a high-protein content equating to 24g per serve.
Vegan 85 is ideal for vegan and dairy-intolerant individuals post-workout. Vegan 85 should be taken within 15-30 minutes following a workout to help kick-start the recovery process and alleviate delayed onset muscle syndrome. Vegan 85 is a convenient way to boost your daily protein intake whether consuming your shake with milk or water as a high-protein snack or blending the powder into a smoothie for breakfast. Vegan 85 has endless possibilities due to the texture and nature of the blend. Because Vegan 85 is a plant-based protein it tends to retain a lot more moisture, making it perfect for baking. Vegan 85 is a great substitute for flour and, with True Protein’s large range of natural flavours, you can create many baked goods and recipes. Check out True Protein’s recipe inspiration here
Vegan Superfood – what can it do for me?
True Protein’s Vegan Superfood blend is a plant-based protein with a dense nutrient profile. Vegan Superfood combines pea protein, organically-sourced brown rice protein, and pumpkin protein. This tri-blend provides over nine natural powdered whole foods containing essential and non-essential amino acids. Vegan Superfood supplies a rich source of dietary fibre, prebiotic fibre and resistant starch enabling our bodies to regulate and eliminate bloating in the gut.
Vegan Superfood is a great alternative protein source for vegan and dairy-intolerant individuals. Nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, and wholegrain extracts provide a thick, dense powder perfect for meal replacements or adding to smoothies. With the carefully balanced formulation, Vegan Superfood supports weight loss with added vitamins, minerals, fibre, good fats, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Whey options for the lactose intolerant
True Protein’s Whey Protein Isolate (WPI 90) is commonly consumed by people with lactose intolerance without experiencing any adverse symptoms. This is because WPI 90 is a unique protein supplement that undergoes an ultrafiltration process. The ultrafiltration process means that the lactose and carbohydrates are almost entirely stripped away, making it the purest form of protein derived from New Zealand grass-fed whey protein on the market. If you are going to trial WPI 90, exercise caution and start by drinking in smaller doses to see how it digests in your body. It is suggested that those with lactose intolerance should take care to avoid products that mix whey protein isolate and concentrate together.
September 21, 2017 Gemma Peakman June 27, 2018
For those of us who work out regularly, protein powder or drinks probably play a big part of your daily fitness regime. But if you’ve chosen to adopt a vegan or non-dairy diet, many of the proteins on the market may no longer be suitable for you. This is all down to an ingredient called whey.
Is Whey Protein Vegan?
Whey is the bi-product of the manufacturing of cheese. It is used in protein powders and shakes because it contains casein – a group of phosphoproteins that make up 80% of the protein in cow’s milk
So to clear it up once and for all – Whey protein is NOT vegan, there is no such thing as vegan whey protein, but that doesn’t mean vegans have to miss out on their protein fix.
Is there a Vegan Alternative to Whey?
Whey is considered a complete protein as it contains all nine of the amino acids. There is no alternative in singular plant based foods.
Never fear, if you follow a vegan diet, you can still get all the energy you need from plant based protein.
Here are some of the most Popular vegan protein powder options:
Soy Protein – A bi-product of the Soy bean, it contains all the amino acids you need for muscle growth, alongside fibre and isoflavones
Hemp Protein – Derived from the hemp seed, it also contains all the essential amino acids, and is easily digestible but can be high in fat content, so may not be suitable if weight loss is also a goal.
Brown Rice Protein– Brown rice powder is high in fibre and B-vitamins, which helps with muscle growth. Brown rice isn’t a complete protein in itself, and therefore powders also contain enhanced amino acids. As well as being vegan, it is also gluten free.
Yellow Pea Protein- Peas are famously high in protein but, again, alone, they are not a complete protein source as they do not contain the full profile of amino acids. This is often blended with other protein sources to create the full protein profile.
Blended Vegan Protein Powders – The best option as a vegan to give you the full plant based protein package is to use blended protein powders such as PRO V-GAIN™ PROTEIN, an advanced blend of rice, soy and pea protein.
5 Reasons You Should Rethink Pea Protein Powder (Brought to You by Ample)
It’s hard to convince people that there’s any merit to protein that doesn’t come from an animal.
“It’s not complete.“
“It has too many carbs.”
“It contains antinutrients. It’s the natural enemy of nutrients!”
In a lot of Paleo circles, legumes are sometimes dismissively called “third world proteins,” food for those too broke for the good stuff. Putting aside how problematic that moniker is, in this article we’re going to explain why more athletes are looking to pea protein and why nutrition companies like Ample are making it the primary ingredient in products like the plant-based meal replacement Ample V.
1. Pea Protein Is Really High Quality
A quick primer on what people mean by protein quality, or “completeness”: protein is made of amino acids and there are nine essential amino acids, meaning we have to consume them because we can’t make them ourselves. When a protein source has all nine in roughly equal amounts, it gets called “complete.” Complete proteins include meat, eggs, dairy, soy, quinoa, and a few others.
A cup of cooked peas has about 10 grams of protein and while, sure, it isn’t exactly “complete” because it’s a little low in methionine, it contains plenty of the branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are the ones most closely linked to muscle gain.(1)
In addition, dietitians don’t really think you need to have a complete protein every time you eat; you only really need to get enough of the essential amino acids throughout the day, which you’re basically guaranteed to do without any effort if you’re eating a varied diet.(2)(3)
2. Pea Builds Muscle as Efficiently as Whey
The most common protein powder is milk-derived whey protein, and besides the fact that it’s pretty tasty, it’s considered high quality because it’s very high in branched chain amino acids.
Pea is actually so high in these amino acids that two studies published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and Sports found no difference in muscle gains when comparing pea protein with whey.(4)(5) The notion that it’s less effective for muscle gain simply doesn’t appear to be true.
Pea also has about three times as much arginine as whey. While arginine powder is not the most reliable pre workout supplement and evidence is mixed here, there’s still some research to suggest it might help with nitric oxide production and therefore improve blood flow.(6)(7)
3. Pea Digests Easily
The University of Michigan calls peas “unlikely allergens” for good reason. Dairy is a great source of protein, but plenty of people have allergies to lactose, casein, or other compounds in milk. Peas, by and large, are unlikely to cause digestive upset and they don’t contain any of the top eight allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, cow’s milk, wheat and soy.
Pea protein powder — which is usually made from yellow peas — also has much of the fiber removed, reducing the risk of causing bloating or gas.
Of course, this doesn’t mean everyone on Earth can happily digest peas — if you can’t stomach ‘em you can’t stomach ‘em. That said, when compared to other legumes, peas tend to be lower in some compounds that can cause digestive upset, such as the “antinutrient” phytic acid.
4. Antinutrients Aren’t That Big a Deal
Many diets, like Paleo and the Vertical Diet, minimize grains and legumes because they contain phytic acid. This is because it binds to positively charged metals, so it can reduce the absorption of minerals like magnesium, iron, and zinc.(8)(9)(10)
Again, peas are lower in phytic acid than other legumes. But even if they weren’t, phytic acid is also an antioxidant — some actually buy it in supplement form because it’s been linked to lower risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and kidney stones, perhaps because it helps to rid the body of excess calcium.(11)(12)(13) (There are some theories that this is why whole grains may lower the risk of colon cancer.(14))
If you still have issues with phytic acid, it seems the effects can be largely negated if you consume it with a small amount of Vitamin C — grab a banana with your shake and this should be fine.(15)(16)
5. Pea Protein May Confer Other Health Benefits
In addition to containing about a quarter of your daily iron intake per serving, some studies have found that just a few grams of pea protein hydrolysate per day can lower systolic blood pressure.(17)(18) Research performed on animals has also suggested that the supplement might help to reduce cholesterol levels as well, a quality often ascribed to legumes and whole grains.(19)(20)
We understand that a lot of people are apprehensive about the taste of pea protein, but it pairs well with earthier flavors like chocolate and/or peanut butter. (This is the case for a lot of other plant-based proteins as well, such as brown rice.)
Nonetheless, it is remarkable when a company puts out a pea-based protein drink that tastes fantastic, which is why we’re such huge fans of the plant-based meal replacement shake Ample V. It’s sweet, nutty, and is elevated by a large amount of coconut oil that brings a real smoothness to the flavor.
However you decide to take it, know that pea protein is inexpensive, hypoallergenic, healthful, and great for building muscle.
1. Tömösközi S, et al. Isolation and study of the functional properties of pea proteins. Nahrung. 2001 Oct;45(6):399-401.
2. Millward DJ, et al. The nutritional value of plant-based diets in relation to human amino acid and protein requirements. Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 May;58(2):249-60.
3. American Dietetic Association, et al. Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Jun;103(6):748-65.
4. Babault N, et al. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jan 21;12(1):3.
5. Banaszek A, et al. The Effects of Whey vs. Pea Protein on Physical Adaptations Following 8-Weeks of High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT): A Pilot Study. Sports (Basel). 2019 Jan 4;7(1).
6. Böger RH, et al. Restoring vascular nitric oxide formation by L-arginine improves the symptoms of intermittent claudication in patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1998 Nov;32(5):1336-44.
7. Bailey SJ, et al. Acute L-arginine supplementation reduces the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and enhances high-intensity exercise tolerance. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2010 Nov;109(5):1394-403.
8. Schuchardt JP, et al. Intestinal Absorption and Factors Influencing Bioavailability of Magnesium-An Update. Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2017 Nov;13(4):260-278.
9. Petry N, et al. In Rwandese Women with Low Iron Status, Iron Absorption from Low-Phytic Acid Beans and Biofortified Beans Is Comparable, but Low-Phytic Acid Beans Cause Adverse Gastrointestinal Symptoms. J Nutr. 2016 May;146(5):970-5.
10. Lönnerdal B. Dietary factors influencing zinc absorption. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1378S-83S.
11. Schlemmer U, et al. Phytate in foods and significance for humans: food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Sep;53 Suppl 2:S330-75.
12. Omoruyi FO, et al. The potential benefits and adverse effects of phytic Acid supplement in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2013;2013:172494.
13. Grases F, et al. Phytate (IP6) is a powerful agent for preventing calcifications in biological fluids: usefulness in renal lithiasis treatment. Anticancer Res. 1999 Sep-Oct;19(5A):3717-22.
14. Aune D, et al. Dietary fibre, whole grains, and risk of colorectal cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ. 2011 Nov 10;343:d6617.
15. Davidsson L. Approaches to improve iron bioavailability from complementary foods. J Nutr. 2003 May;133(5 Suppl 1):1560S-2S.
16. Siegenberg D, et al. Ascorbic acid prevents the dose-dependent inhibitory effects of polyphenols and phytates on nonheme-iron absorption. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Feb;53(2):537-41.
17. Li H, et al. Blood pressure lowering effect of a pea protein hydrolysate in hypertensive rats and humans. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Sep 28;59(18):9854-60.
18. Girgih AT, et al. Antihypertensive Properties of a Pea Protein Hydrolysate during Short- and Long-Term Oral Administration to Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. J Food Sci. 2016 May;81(5):H1281-7.
19. Rigamonti E, et al. Hypolipidemic effect of dietary pea proteins: Impact on genes regulating hepatic lipid metabolism. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 May;54 Suppl 1:S24-30.
20. Spielmann J, et al. Dietary pea protein stimulates bile acid excretion and lowers hepatic cholesterol concentration in rats. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2008 Dec;92(6):683-93.
As if the protein powder aisle wasn’t confusing enough—here comes pea protein.
Yes, those mushy little orbs your mom made you eat as a kid do contain protein (about 10 grams per cup, in fact)
But with all of the protein powder options—whey, casein, soy, rice, hemp—lining health foods shelves, why would you ever reach for peas?
Related: THE 21-DAY METASHRED—a Body-Shredding Fitness and Diet Program From the Men’s Health Fitness Director
What’s the Difference?
For starters, pea protein is free of dairy, explains Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., author of Plant-Powered for Life. That’s important to both vegans and people with lactose intolerance or sensitivity.
But for the rest of the population, pea protein can also help deliver the quality of protein you need to help your muscles recover after exercise.
Pea protein is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids—including branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—that you need to consume to effectively build muscle, Palmer says. That’s not true of many other plant-based options like rice.
How Does Pea Protein Compare to Whey?
|25 Grams Pea Protein||25 Grams Whey|
*Exact numbers will vary with certain products, says Spano.
But Does Pea Protein Work?
Looking at the numbers, you would assume pea protein may not be as effective at building muscle as whey. After all, pea protein contains nowhere near the amount of BCAAs as whey.
(To get the best results from your workouts, read What and When You Should Eat to Build Muscle.)
But pea protein does have one advantage not captured in the information above—and that’s the fact that it houses about three times more of the amino acid arginine than whey.
Arginine may not be a BCAA, but it’s essential to building muscle, and may explain why pea protein does such a good job at boosting men’s muscle gains.
In a 2015 Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition study of men ages 18 to 35, those who paired their lifting sessions with pea protein enjoyed the same increases in biceps size as did those who opted for whey protein.
So Which Kind Of Protein Powder Should You Buy?
If you’re trying to avoid both dairy and soy, there’s no real downside to giving pea protein a try.
You can compensate for pea protein’s “slightly dirt-like” flavor by adding in other ingredients like fruit, veggies, and nut butters to your protein shake, Matheny says. Bonus: Mixing multiple protein sources into your pea-based protein shake affords you an even better amino acid profile than sipping on peas alone.
Related: Creatine: What It Is, What It Does, and Its Side Effects
Matheny recommends looking for brands that state that their peas are both grown and processed in the United States.
“That will increase the likelihood that the protein was grown in clean soil without heavy metal contamination,” he says. Some products also advertise on their label that they have undergone third party testing for heavy metal content.
To make sure that your pea protein does not contain any hormones or unnecessary additives, he also recommends opting for organic and unflavored tubs.
“But is there any reason to buy it if you aren’t vegan or allergic to both dairy and soy? Not really,” Matheny says. Pea protein’s high arginine levels are more of a “redeeming quality” as opposed to a reason to buy pea protein rather than whey.
12 Reasons Pea Protein is Great For Your Health
From whey to soy to rice, protein powders come in all different forms. Each has its own benefits, so choosing the perfect protein can be a little overwhelming.
If better health is your goal, it’s time to check out pea protein. Here are 12 reasons pea protein might be the healthiest thing you consume all day:
1. It’s a rich source of lysine
One of the reasons protein is so important to the diet is because it contains essential amino acids. The body can’t make 9 essential amino acids, so they must be obtained through foods. Lysine is one of these amino acids, and it’s essential for building connective tissue like skin, cartilage, and bones. It has also been shown to help absorb calcium, another must for strong bones.
Legumes are one of the richest sources of lysine, so if your diet is heavy in grain or grain-based protein and low on beans and legumes, pea protein is the way to go.
2. Your allergies will thank you
Go to your local grocery or health food store and you’ll notice that the majority of protein powders contain whey or casein. Although most of the lactose has been removed from whey, trace amounts still remain. If you’re one of the 50 million Americans who are lactose-intolerant, these dairy-based proteins won’t cut it.
Pea protein doesn’t contain dairy, lactose, or soy, making it a viable option for people with some of the most common allergens. Keep in mind, some pea protein powders commonly contain allergenic-added ingredients, so look for ones like Growing Naturals Pea Proteins, which don’t contain artificial additives and use completely plant-based, soy and dairy-free ingredients.
3. It’s naturally gluten free
If you follow a gluten-free diet, whether it’s due to an intolerance, sensitivity, or personal preference, you already know finding gluten-free foods can be difficult. All foods must now be below 20 ppm (parts per million), or .002% gluten, in order to meet FDA guidelines.
While Pea Proteins are naturally gluten-free, brands like Growing Naturals go the extra mile by testing each batch of product for gluten using the Gluten RIDASCREEN Competitive method R7021 and Gluten RIDASCREEN Gliadin method R7001. Most of the time, they test between 5-10ppm, trace amounts well below FDA guidelines.
4. It’s easier on the stomach
Although very healthy, whole legumes like beans and peas have a reputation for creating uncomfortable side effects like gas and bloating. This is mainly due to the high fiber and starch content.
Even though pea protein comes from a legume, the peas undergo processing to remove most of the fiber and starch content. This, combined with the fact that they don’t contain major allergens or lactose, make pea protein an option that’s easy on the stomach. It’s also highly digestible, with 94% digestibility.
5. It’s rich in plant-based iron
Iron is an essential mineral that plays a major role in the body, helping transport oxygen through the blood. Iron deficiencies can lead to anemia, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and brittle hair and nails, among other things.
Women are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency due to blood loss through menstruation. The RDA for women aged 19-50 is 18 mg, which is higher than it is for males. For vegetarians, the RDA is 1.8 times greater.
There are actually two different types of iron—heme (found in animals meat) and non-heme (found in plants). While non-heme iron is not as easily absorbed by the body, it reduces the risk of excess iron building up in the body. Excess iron from animal sources has been linked to an increased risk of serious health concerns, making non-heme iron (like the kind found in pea protein) a healthier option. Added bonus: Growing Naturals pea protein is an excellent source of iron, containing 25-30% of the DV(daily value) per serving.
6. It’s a low glycemic food
The glycemic index is a number assigned to foods based on how quickly the body digests it and turns it to glucose. Low glycemic foods take the body longer to digest, which helps keep blood sugar levels even. They also help you feel full longer and are associated with a number of benefits, including helping maintain a healthy weight.
Pea protein is concentrated in protein, so it won’t raise blood sugar the way juice or other high-carb foods do. In fact, adding pea protein to a fruit smoothie will actually help to keep blood sugar spikes at bay, helping you sustain your energy for longer periods.
7. It low-carb friendly
If you’re watching your carb intake, pea protein is an excellent low-carb option that doesn’t sacrifice protein content—GN pea proteins have 0-3 carbs per serving and 15-16 grams of protein. Most of the carbs in pea protein have been removed, unlike whole legumes, which are high in complex carbs.
8. Your muscles will love the BCAAs
BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) are three essential amino acids that can’t be produced by the body. BCAAs make up more than 35% of muscle mass and stimulate protein synthesis, so they’re particularly important for building muscle.
When it comes to BCAA content, pea protein is comparable to whey protein; about 20% of the amino acids in pea protein are BCAA (compared to 25% in whey protein), enough needed to stimulate protein synthesis. According to this study on pea protein, participants who supplemented with pea protein increased bicep muscle thickness at the same rate as whey protein users.
9. It’s sky high in arginine
Another important amino acid, arginine (L-arginine) has plenty of heart-healthy benefits and is also a key player in muscle growth, assisting in protein synthesis and increasing blood flow to muscles.
If your goal is to build muscle, pea protein contains more than 3 times the amount of arginine per gram than whey protein.
10. It’s low-FODMAP friendly
FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. Foods with FODMAPs contain certain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols, and avoiding them has shown to be an effective treatment for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
All GN pea proteins are low-FODMAP at a max of 2 servings and they have been third-party tested to ensure compliance. If you have gas, bloating, cramps, and other digestive issues that haven’t been diagnosed, low-FODMAP foods like pea protein may be able to help.
11. It contains mega magnesium
Magnesium is another mineral that plays a vital role in health and involved in more than 600 chemical reactions in the body, including muscle movement, DNA repair, and protein formation. Studies have also shown that it may benefit heart and brain health, insulin resistance, and blood pressure, among other things.
Pea protein makes it easy to get this important mineral, each serving containing about 40-45% of the recommended 400 mg of magnesium each day.
12. It’s naturally cholesterol and saturated fat free
It’s no secret that saturated fats are bad for the heart. Because they can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, the American Heart Association recommends limiting calories from saturated fat to less than 5-6% of calories per day.
Cholesterol and saturated fats are only found in animal products and proteins. If you’re watching your cholesterol, you might want to consider pea proteins; unlike dairy proteins, pea proteins are naturally cholesterol and saturated fat free.
Whether you want to watch your carb intake, fuel your muscles, or make a positive change to your health, pea protein is a delicious, nutritious way to start. And if you’re still not convinced–check out these other reasons why to try pea protein.
Written By: Jill Overmyer
Reviewed and Edited By: Scarlett Full, in-house Registered Dietitian