While whey protein may be the most popular choice of powders for muscle gain and weight loss, it’s far from the only option available. A number of vegetarian options are on the market today, and many of them are showing a lot of promise. But one that stands out from the rest is peas. In fact, pea protein could prove to offer the best value around for a vegetarian-based protein powder.
What is Pea Protein Powder?
Pea protein powder is derived from yellow split peas, which are then ground down into a powder that can be mixed into smoothies or meals. Like other protein powders, they allow you to get a heavy dose of protein in one sitting, and their powder form ensures quicker digestion and better absorption levels than you’d get from eating whole meals.
Why Do People Choose Pea Protein?
Pea protein is most commonly picked because someone practices a vegan or vegetarian diet, but the fact that it’s free of dairy means that it’s fine for those with lactose intolerance, and it’s also completely hypoallergenic. It’s also one of the most effective vegetarian choices for absorption. Pea protein contains all of the nine essential amino acids. While its presence of methionine is low, that can easily be supplemented with brown rice.
It stacks up well against other plant proteins as well. While plant-based proteins generally have less effective absorption than animal-based proteins, pea protein performs better than most of its siblings. Only chickpea and soy protein powders show more effective absorption than pea protein. There are even indications that pea protein can promote healthier cholesterol and blood sugar levels when used regularly.
Is Pea Protein Good for Gaining Muscle Mass?
Considering that it’s plant-based, pea protein is a surprisingly effective choice for gaining muscle mass. A 12-week study comparing a pea protein diet against a whey protein diet even seemed to indicate comparable muscle gain between the two options. And since it’s somewhat slower to digest, it works well when taken before bed or during other extended periods of inactivity.
Another advantage that pea protein brings to the table is the large presence of BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids. BCAAs are particularly effective at building muscle even when inactive. Research on pea protein isn’t as comprehensive as some more popular animal-based alternatives, but the existing studies are very promising.
Is Pea Protein Good for Losing Weight?
The bad news is that the same BCAAs that help you put on muscle can also prevent you from dropping pounds on the scale. The good news is that pea protein is an incredibly pure protein powder. Its protein content is close to 90%, meaning that you’re basically getting pure protein when you mix it up into a shake.
Another notch in favor of using pea protein for weight loss is the fact that it’s filling. If you’re trying to lose weight with protein shakes but struggling with food cravings, pea protein can provide you with one of the most satisfying options around. In that regard, it’s even capable of keeping pace with dairy-based proteins like whey protein powder.
An All-Around Balanced Choice
All told, pea protein is a remarkable vegetarian alternative to whey by practically every metric. Its wide scope of included amino acids and high protein purity means that it provides a whole lot of bang for its buck, and any issues it might have with weight loss or mitigated by the perks that it offers. If you’re particularly sensitive to food allergies or you’ve had issues with a protein powder in the past, you won’t find a safer path to pursue than pea protein powder.