Pea Protein

What is Pea Protein and Why Does It Matter to your Workout?

Many of the clients I work with who take the Marc Dressen approach to fitness, combine their online fitness coach-recommended diet and exercise routine with the use of protein powders. In the world of protein powder, you probably already know that giants like casein and whey are the most popular – racking up billions in sales every year.

It’s no surprise that these two solutions are so popular, research consistently shows that they’re some of the best sources of high-quality protein. But, what about if you don’t want to supplement with whey or casein? Well, you could just get more whole foods into your diet – but that’s often easier said than done. On the other hand, there’s soy protein powder – however, that’s probably not the best option out there.

So, what’s the answer?

The solution to all your protein problems could be simpler than you think. Pea protein is an often-overlooked source of protein thanks to worries about its digestibility, amino acid profile, and taste. Many people are convinced that peas simply don’t have what it takes to provide them with all the protein they need to lose fat and gain muscle. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As I’m about to show you in the article below, pea protein is one of the most effective plant-based forms of protein on the market. It’s on par with some of the best animal-based powders, and can also have a pleasant taste. Read on to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of pea protein powder, and why it matters to your workout.

Understanding Pea Protein: What is It?

When it comes to making the most out of your goal-oriented workout, pea protein could be the answer to your prayers. As the name might suggest, pea protein is simply a form of protein that’s extracted from peas. Specially, it can be obtained by drying peas and grinding them into a fine flour, which can then be mixed with water. By removing the starch and fibre, you’re left with a collection of valuable minerals and vitamins (alongside plenty of protein).

The resulting paste can be dried, and ground into a fine powder, which creates a pea protein isolate, which offers a host of fantastic nutritional benefits from a single 30-gram serving, including:

  • 6 grams of fibre
  • 100 calories
  • 23 grams of protein
  • 7 grams of carbohydrates
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 400 IU of vitamin D
  • 5 IU of vitamin E
  • 5 Micrograms of Vitamin K
  • 200 IU of vitamin A

The Benefits of Pea Protein

Pea protein is particularly unique to the protein family, because it’s rich in essential amino acids, and branched-chain amino acids, otherwise known as BCAAs. Pea protein stands out from the crowd because it’s rich in everything other than methionine – which you can easily correct for by including small amounts of animal protein in your diet, or other plant-based proteins.

If you were to look at the amino acid profile of pea protein, you’d find that it’s about 9% leucine by weight, which makes it extra effective at improving muscle building. Whey, for instance, offers about 10% leucine by weight. This is just one of the many reasons why research suggests that people are able to gain just as much muscle using a pea protein supplement, as they could using a whey protein powder.

Another reason that pea protein is so effective is that it’s practically “all” protein. Pea protein isolate contains about 85% protein, as well as 7% fat and 3% carbohydrates. In comparison, whey protein is the purest protein around, and that weighs in at around 90% protein. At the same time, pea protein also digests slowly, which means that it’s ideal for taking before you go to sleep, and may make it great for improving your body composition over time. There’s some evidence that slow-digesting proteins are better for growing muscles over time.

Finally, pea protein is also very filling, which makes it a good meal replacement if you’re looking for a snack to keep you satisfied on the go.

What are the Problems with Pea Protein?

Perhaps one of the only problems with pea protein is that it’s low in methionine. From a practical perspective, this really isn’t too much of an issue, because you can find this same substance in plenty of other foods that people enjoy eating, such as eggs and chicken.

The only reason that a lack of methionine would present a problem, is if you were using pea protein as your only source of protein, and you didn’t eat any other foods that provided the right amounts. However, if you’re getting your protein from a range of different sources, and eating the right foods, then you really don’t have anything to worry about.

There’s also some concern that pea-protein might be more likely to cause allergic reactions than other proteins from plants. Though this is true, pea allergies are still very rare, which is why this form of protein is often recommended for people who have allergies to more commonly problematic foods like dairy or soy.

The Key to Choosing Pea Protein

When it comes to finding a results-driven solution for a flatter stomach and bigger muscles, pea protein could be the ideal option. However, it’s worth noting that not all pea protein powders will give you the same results. Like many other supplements on the market, some sources of pea protein are higher in quality than others, and it’s difficult to know which ones are good before you have a chance to try them out.

Ultimately, you’ll need to select your protein based on what’s being offered by the brands that you trust. If you feel your chosen company has demonstrated their honesty enough to earn your confidence, then they should get your business.

The key point to remember from this article is that pea protein is a very effective solution for those in search of plant-based protein solutions. Not only is it mostly protein according to weight, but it’s also well-absorbed and digested. Pea protein is also a “complete” protein which contains an abundance of essential amino acids.

The major problem with pea protein is that it lacks the amino acid methionine. However, as I mentioned previously, it’s easy enough to mitigate that problem just by eating a balanced diet. When you combine all of the benefits of pea protein, it’s easy to see what makes it such a great option for the modern workout.

Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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