When people mention protein powders, the first thing that comes to mind is probably whey, soy, casein, or even egg. But for vegans and vegetarians, these protein powders go against their preferences. We generally get our protein from eggs, chicken, and fish. So the question is, what can be their protein sources?
Protein is important in muscle growth, as well as repairing tissues. This is primarily the reason most bodybuilders and athletes turn to it. It can help them increase muscle mass over a short period of time, and supply their required protein intake at low-calorie packages.
One emerging champion for vegans and vegetarians is pea protein, a non-dairy protein supplement that contains the majority of the essential amino acids (EAAs). Pea protein is rich in amino acids, specifically branched-chain amino acids. These BCAAs are important in decreasing the muscle breakdown after strenuous exercise routines.
Out It’s a common misconception that plant-based proteins lack many of the EAAs, but in the case of pea protein, that’s simply not true. Out of the 21 amino acids, we all need to keep the body functioning to stay alive, nine of these need to be obtained from food. The rest of these amino acids can be synthesized by our bodies from other molecules.
A type of EAA called leucine is essential in building muscle, and studies show that leucine content in our food is equal to the rate of muscle growth. In short, the greater the leucine content, the better the muscle-building potential.
Here’s a nutritional chart from Legion Athletics to help us look into pea protein leucine content:
Among the most common questions asked when deciding whether or not to opt for pea protein is, “Is it a complete protein?”
The most common answer you’ve heard is: no. This is completely false. In fact, the researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology say otherwise. They’ve been saying otherwise for over two decades now when they proved in 1994 that vegetable proteins contain all the essential amino acids.
So why are people saying the opposite? This is just because some sources of protein, like pea protein, contain lower levels of essential amino acids than others. But it doesn’t mean these amino acids aren’t there.
So, to answer the age-old question, is pea protein a complete protein? It’s a definite yes.
The main appeal of whey protein is that it can be digested quickly and easily by the body. It’s the top choice for muscle growth and recovery, and studies have proven that people who supplemented with whey protein, while undergoing regular exercise saw results over a period of five months, with regards to their body fat percentage and waist circumference.
For vegans, vegetarians, and those who are lactose intolerant, pea protein is the best alternative. It’s also ideal for weight loss, because it’s slow digesting, and keeps you fuller for longer. This means it has the ability to reduce your cravings, too.
In 2011, the Nutrition Journal published a study in which researchers studied the calorie intake of participants who took pea protein versus whey protein. The result? Those who drank pea protein powder ate a significantly less amount of calories compared to those who took whey protein.
You might be wondering why people take protein powders in the first place. The truth is, the first 30 minutes after a workout is an important window because it’s a unique point wherein the body has the capacity to absorb amino acids at an incredible rate.
It’s rich in arginine, an amino acid that helps the body build muscle and increase lean muscle mass. It also assists the body in healing wounds, keeping up immune health, support hormone function, assist kidney function in removing wastes from the body, and is good for the heart!
A 2009 study found that pea protein can lower high blood pressure within a matter of weeks. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that plant-based proteins were better at lowering the risk of coronary heart diseases in the long run, compared to animal-based proteins.
Pea protein also has great nutritional content, and a 30-gram powder contains 100 calories, 23 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of carbohydrate, and 0.3 grams of fat. In addition, it also contains 5 micrograms of vitamin K, 5 IU vitamin E, 200 IU vitamin A, and 400 IU vitamin D!
Since it’s a hypoallergenic protein powder, it has no dairy or gluten. When you’re allergic to a component of an animal-based protein supplement, you might get an upset stomach, nauseous, or experience bloating.
Pea protein doesn’t contain any allergenic ingredients, so there’s a significantly lower risk of triggering an allergy or intolerance to it. You can have the luxury of taking pea protein on the regular with any side effects.
As you may or may not yet know, pea protein (and any protein powder, for that matter), is a great addition to your weight loss regimen. A protein-rich diet can decrease the amount of the hormone ghrelin, which is the one that tells your brain when you’re hungry.
Pea protein produces peptides that combats and delays the production of ghrelin in the stomach, which produces the effect that you feel fuller for a longer time, and therefore eat less.
Packing on the protein will allow your body to shed those pounds faster — the science is, to build muscle and burn fat a lot faster, you should take a gram of protein per pound of your body weight.
A study on young men sought to determine the glucose levels after regular intake of pea protein. While it didn’t affect their appetite or promote additional or decreased food intake, the changes brought by pea protein was apparent in the glycemic control of the participants.