What is pea protein powder?
Fast becoming one of the most popular plant-based sources of protein, pea protein powder is ideal for supplementing a healthy diet and exercise.
But what is pea protein exactly?
Is it better than whey?
And what are the benefits of using pea protein instead of any other kind of protein powder?
If these are the sorts of questions you want answers to, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll talk you through:
- What pea protein powder is
- If pea protein powder is good for you
- Pea protein vs whey
- The top eight benefits of pea protein
- If pea protein can make you gain weight
- If pea protein has a damaging effect on the kidneys
- Nine creative uses of pea protein
- If there are any pea protein side effects
- Where to buy pea protein
What is pea protein powder?
Pea protein powder is a plant-based source of protein made from (you guessed it) peas!
Typically extracted from yellow peas, it’s most commonly used to supplement a healthy diet and exercise regime to increase the protein content of smoothies and shakes.
Is pea protein powder good for you?
Yes, pea protein powder is good for you and actually contains a variety of health benefits – but more on that later.
To help you get more of an idea of the nutritional value of protein powder, take a look at the table below.
One scoop of pea protein powder contents (32g):1
Is pea protein better than whey protein?
It could be argued that pea protein is better than whey protein in regards to certain factors like allergies, as whey protein often contains lactose and glucose whereas pea protein doesn’t.
In terms of protein content, both contain a similar amount but whey protein does tend to offer a few more grams per serving.
- Pea protein is a form of protein powder that is commonly made from yellow or split peas
- It can be good for you as a serving is low in calories and sugar, but high in protein
- In some instances, pea protein is better than whey – especially when it comes to dietary allergies
8 pea protein benefits
It has all the essential amino acids
Even though it’s made from plants, pea protein does contain all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own.
Although it’s worth noting that it is pretty low in methionine.2
It’s cruelty-free and vegan
If you’re on a vegan diet, good news.
Pea protein is naturally cruelty-free, so you can get your ‘ve-gains’ without having to consume animal products!
It’s naturally hypoallergenic
In a similar vein, pea protein is naturally allergen-free in comparison to a lot of other protein powders like soy and whey varieties.
It also doesn’t contain any gluten making it a good source of protein in a gluten free diet.
It’s easier to digest
Another benefit of pea protein is that it is easier for the stomach to digest.
This is because the stomach breaks it down into small particles in vitro, in contrast to casein proteins which dissolve.3
It could help to burn fat and tone muscle
Pea protein, unlike other forms of protein, releases the ghrelin hormone which normally increases appetite, but it also brings about the release of growth hormones which help to break down fat tissue and build and tone muscle at the same time.4,5
It’s a good source of iron
Another nutritional benefit of pea protein powder is that it is rich in iron.
An average serving of protein powder contains roughly between 25% to 30% of the daily recommended intake of iron for adults.6
It helps to keep you full
Within the health and fitness industry, it’s no secret that protein is the most filling macronutrient compared to carbohydrates and fat.7
One study, in particular, highlighted that consuming just 20g of pea protein powder half an hour before eating pizza lowered the average amount of calories that were consumed by approximately 12%.8
It could have a positive effect on heart health
Pea protein has also been studied in relation to heart health.
Specifically, animal studies have explored how it can reduce cholesterol levels by increasing the uptake of cholesterol into the cells while also reducing the production level of fats.9,10
How much pea protein powder should you have?
Each serving of pea protein powder is roughly 30g, and it can be taken up to three times a day if under an intensive training schedule.11
9 uses of pea protein powder
Fortunately, pea protein powder like many other kinds can be used in a variety of different ways other than a pea protein shake.
Here are some creative uses of pea protein (where you only have to add a scoop to the recipe) that you could try:
- Pea protein cookies
- Pea protein porridge
- Pea protein pancakes
- Pea protein superfood bars
- Pea protein bites
- Pea protein smoothie
- Pea protein chia pudding
- Pea protein muffins
- Pea protein banana bread
Does pea protein make you gain weight?
Most foods or drinks when overconsumed can make you gain weight – especially if it means you’re in a calorie surplus.
Also, pea protein is comparatively lower in calories than some other forms of protein like whey so it may actually be a good choice if you’re looking to lose weight.
Additionally, we previously highlighted how it can actually help to build muscle and burn fat, so since muscle weighs more than fat it may make your weight go up in this respect.
Is pea protein powder bad for your kidneys?
Any type of high protein diet isn’t recommended for people with pre-existing kidney issues and there is no evidence to suggest that protein could cause kidney damage in people with healthy kidneys.12,13
Are there any side effects to pea protein powder?
Pea protein is actually one of the lowest risk protein powders since it’s allergen-free, but that doesn’t mean to say that it couldn’t cause some side effects in individuals.
For example, some people may experience mild digestive upset, but this is far less common compared to other forms of protein.
Is pea protein powder suitable for everyone?
Generally speaking, pea protein powder is pretty well tolerated and has little to no reported side effects.
However as high levels of protein could cause issues for people with kidney problems, it’s best to seek the advice of your GP before trying pea protein.
- There are a variety of pea protein benefits, from nutritional benefits to health benefits
- Vegan pea protein powder is very versatile and can be used in a range of different ways, whether in a smoothie or a cookie
- Pea protein is low risk in terms of side effects, so it may be the best kind of protein powder if you suffer from allergies and sensitivities
- Those with a pre-existing kidney condition should speak to a doctor before using it
Where to buy pea protein from
Fancy giving pea protein a go but you’re not sure where to get it from?
Nowadays, pea protein is easier to get your hands on. T
here may be limited choice at a supermarket, but most health food shops should stock a range of protein powders, including pea protein.
The final say
Pea protein is a great plant-based alternative to whey protein whether you’re vegan or not.
And as well as being a high-quality source of protein, it also comes with a range of other benefits from being allergen-free to being rich in iron.
Last updated: 9 September 2021