Pea Protein Powders: Plant Based Protein Supplements
When people think of protein supplements most of them almost immediately imagine powdered dairy products, but there’s a world of complete veggie/vegetarian proteins. In this post, you will find various valuable facts regarding pea protein powders and why this protein source worth your attention, especially if you have specific food allergies or sensitivities to commercial pasteurized dairy and eggs.
Protein supplements are used to enhance muscle repair and growth. Inadequate protein intake causes a negative nitrogen balance, which slows muscle growth and causes fatigue. In an athlete with normal renal function, there are no notable adverse effects to increased protein consumption.
Protein powders also come in many plant-based forms including hemp, pea, rice, soy, buckwheat, spirulina and artichoke. They are a very convenient way to increase your protein intake in an easily digested and assimilated liquid form once added to water or another liquid.
If you fear you have a low protein intake, protein powders are one of the best remedies. They have also been shown to be extremely beneficial for adding muscle when consumed by bodybuilders and other athletes.
Pea Protein Powder: The Non-Dairy Muscle Builder
Derived from the golden pea plant, pea protein has the most complete amino acid profile of any plant-based protein powder. Furthermore, this type of protein powder is completely vegan/vegetarian and hypoallergenic. Therefore it’s a great choice for anyone who has allergies or follows a vegan/vegetarian diet. It is also gluten-free and less allergenic than soy.
The powder is usually easily digestible by the body and is therefore great for using while doing a detox. It is valued for its high digestibility and low price. Pea protein powder is also mixed with a small amount of water and used as a jam or a spread.
When used in baked goods, it has the best results of any protein powders and behaves the most like flour. It has a bland taste, which makes it unattractive in shakes or on its own.
Amino Acid Profile
Pea protein powder has an incomplete amino acid profile—it’s low in phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, and histidine. It does, however, boast high amounts of five of the nine essential amino acids: lysine, arginine, leucine, isoteucine, and valine. As you can see, it has high levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The essential branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. As you probably already know, they are of special importance for athletes because they are metabolized in the muscle, rather than in the liver
Furthermore, the importance of consuming a “complete” protein isn’t all that important. Your body breaks all protein into individual amino acids in the intestine which then get transported through the bloodstream to perform their various functions. The only thing that matters is if the pool of amino acids in its entirety is sufficient for your physiological functions. Your body really can’t tell a difference between complete and incomplete proteins from different food sources. And you can always consume a variety of nutrients from different sources to achieve complete amino acid profile.
Pea Protein Powders and Vegans/Vegetarians
Pea protein powder represents a good protein powder for those wanting to find a vegetarian/vegan alternative to dairy-based protein powders.
Vegans/vegetarians typically lack protein in their diets, and protein is an important part of every meal (breakfast in particular) because it helps keep you full for longer than just fruits and vegetables.
Research on breakfast shows that protein helps people to feel less hungry later in the day. People who eat just carbs for breakfast or skip breakfast tend to eat more calories throughout the day and more calories overall. While fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious, they are also quickly digested and can leave you craving more sustenance. Thankfully there is a fantastic solution for getting protein while sticking with vegan eating in the morning—pea protein powder. It’s a relatively new addition to the protein powder family and is showing a lot of promise in the nutrition research community.
Pea Protein VS Soy Protein
Pea protein has an amino acid profile similar to that of soy, but pea protein does not elicit concerns about unknown effects of phytoestrogens. It is also less allergenic than soy.
Soy protein isolate offers similar speed of absorption to pea protein. However, a 2013 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared the effects of supplementing with pea versus soy and found that subjects using soy had “lower testosterone responses.” In addition, the pea users were better able to blunt cortisol (a stress hormone that breaks down muscle).
Cooking With Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein powder is extremely versatile in the kitchen. It is also a wonderful ingredient to cook with, and we often recommend it to people whether they’re vegetarian/vegan or not. We recommend cooking with pea protein for two reasons: (1) for its incomplete amino acid profile, and, (2) for the way it tastes and bakes.
The first reason may seem counterintuitive – if your goal is creating nutrition-packed meals, why would you want to use an incomplete source of protein? The reason is very simply: because you can complete it. You can enhance the nutritional profile of pea protein powder by mixing it with ingredients that are high in the amino acids that pea protein powder lacks (e.g. eggs or dairy, which are high in phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, and histidine), thereby creating a nutritionally superior food and a more “complete” source of protein.
Much like casein and the other vegetarian/vegan protein powders, pea protein powder absorbs liquids very easily. Because you have to add more moisture to your baked goods, they end up with a wonderful moist consistency. It is for this reason that pea protein powder represents one of the best flour-replacing powders available on the market today.
Some Great Uses for Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein can be used in either hot or cold recipes. You can use pea protein powder to make creamy protein sauces, protein soups, protein wraps, savory pancakes, and breads. You can also use it to make protein muffins, protein cupcakes, protein cookies, and (sweet!) protein bars.
When most people encounter pea protein powder for the first time, they recoil in horror. That’s usually because they expect it to smell and taste sweet (like most whey and casein protein powders do) and then are struck by the fact that it doesn’t. Pea protein powder smelts savory. It tastes savory, kind of like… soup! Which isn’t, of course, surprising when you consider the fact that it comes from peas.
On its own, pea protein powder doesn’t taste as good as whey and casein do, even when it’s sweetened with chocolate or vanilla. When you couple pea protein powder with other ingredients and use it to cook with – it’s like watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly!
Pea Protein Benefits
- It’s 100 percent gluten free. If you are among the estimated 10 percent of people who struggle with gluten or grain intolerance, or if you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, pea protein powder is a great option for you.
- Fully hypoallergenic. Many people have allergens to protein powders that contain whey, egg, soy, and casein (a milk protein). These ingredients can cause gas, bloating, and digestive discomfort. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education Organization, eight foods account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Peas are not among these. Pea protein powder is free of all allergens, making it the perfect choice.
- Increases muscle thickness. A common misunderstanding about vegetable-based proteins is that they don’t have the same effect on muscle growth and muscle recovery after workouts as dairy-based whey proteins. However, that’s not true at all! A 2015 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition proved pea protein increase muscle thickness just as potently as dairy-based proteins.
- It blends beautifully. Many protein powders have a chalky, clumpy, or grainy texture or tendency. Not pea protein powder. It dissolves easily in water and blends into a creamy smooth shake. Even without a blender, pea protein powder blends easily in a shaker bottle.
- Since protein is an essential macro-nutrient often lacking in vegetarians, pea protein powders can help fill the nutritional gap. Also they help keep you full for longer than just fruits and vegetables. Researchers found that pea protein was just as satisfying as protein powder made with casein (made from milk protein) and more filling than protein powders made with whey and egg.
- It’s planet-friendly. Reducing your intake of animal protein is a great way to be more planet-friendly.
- Regulates blood sugar. When added to other foods, it can improve glycemic control.
- Supports weight loss. As with all good protein powders, pea protein is a handy tool in your arsenal of weight loss weapons. Especially if you’re looking to lose weight fast, introducing protein is one of the best ways to do it.
- Supports a healthy heart. Scientists found that pea protein lowers high blood pressure, decreases the risk of coronary heart disease, and reduces inflammation.
We highly recommend using plant-based protein powders (such as pea protein powder) in your pre- and post-lifting snacks. It’s especially important (as vegans and vegetarians) to mix up your powders, rotating through several types in order to consume a variety of nutrients from different sources. That way you will receive all of the essential muscle-building components needed to get ripped, to build major mass, and reap the rewards of hours at the gym.
With only a few additives or artificial ingredients, this one appeals to those looking for protein sources closest to the whole-food source.
Pea protein powder is a safe alternative for people with allergies to milk and milk products, who must avoid casein or whey proteins, for people with lactose intolerance, and for vegetarians with soy allergies. It’s a safe option for people who cannot tolerate animal-based protein powder mixtures.