Pea Protein vs. Whey Protein: Which is Better?
Thinking of going vegan or do you find that whey protein leaves you feeling bloated and uncomfortable? If so, you may find that switching to a plant-based protein powder, such as pea protein, allows you to continue reaping the benefits of protein powder without the uncomfortable bloating and other negatives you may not be aware of. Read on to find out if pea protein is the right alternative for you.
Why eat protein powder?
Protein powder is a great supplement to any diet, whether you’re following a low-carb plant-based diet, or a high-protein diet designed to build muscle. The truth is, most of us fail to eat sufficient protein naturally to provide significant amino acids to help our bodies repair themselves optimally. When we eat protein powder, we can eat a higher concentration of protein without having to eat huge volumes of food, avoid the excess carbohydrates and fat that would come with increasing the volume of food we eat. Protein powder also helps us stay full for longer, suppressing our appetite and helping us to go between meals without snacking.
Why choose pea protein over whey protein?
Whey protein is the most common form of protein powder available and is made with cow’s milk. As vegetarianism, veganism, and dairy-free diets rise in popularity and necessity, people are searching for alternatives to whey protein, and pea protein is a great solution.
Most adults have at least some difficulty digesting dairy, so many people feel uncomfortable or experience bloating after eating whey protein. When you swap whey protein for pea protein, you can avoid the lactose that causes bloating in so many people. It’s important not to ignore intestinal discomfort as it can indicate that your body is not properly absorbing the protein and receiving the benefits of the amino acids.
Another reason to choose pea protein over whey is that it has very little fat content, especially in comparison to whey. This low-fat content allows some manufacturers to add Medium Chain Triglycerides to the ingredient list, which aids in satiety and so can aid in weight loss. Medium Chain Triglycerides are a type of fat that is burned for increased energy production and not stored by the body as fat.
Pea protein powder is generally free of common allergens, so it’s usually suitable for those with lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, and other dietary restrictions. Of course, don’t forget to check the label before you buy and use a pea protein powder, just in case.
Is pea protein as beneficial for building muscle as whey protein?
It’s important to remember that protein is protein – whether you get it from a beef steak or a bowl of tofu. Pea protein is rich in essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids, which makes it just as good for building and retaining muscle as whey protein.
What should I look for in a pea protein powder?
The only thing you need to look out for is methionine – not all pea protein powders contain it, so you should look for a pea protein powder that contains this essential amino acid. Methionine is an antioxidant that protects the body from damage from heavy metals and other toxins, which can find their way into the body through food and the environment. It’s also essential for protein synthesis, so you need it to make the most of the protein the pea protein powder contains.
Can I use pea protein powder the same way as whey protein?
Yes, you can use pea protein in your drinks, smoothies, in baked goods, and even as a thickening agent in soups and sauces. This is a great way to incorporate more protein into your vegetarian and vegan meals, as you can add a scoop to chilies, curries, soups, stews, bread, sauces, and more, all without sacrificing the taste or texture of your meal.
Pea protein powder is the perfect choice for anyone who finds whey protein makes them uncomfortable shortly after eating, anyone who is lactose or gluten intolerant, and anyone who wants to use less animal products for ethical and/or environmental reasons.
Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.