Everything You Need to Know About Pea Protein

Theses days, walking down a protein powder aisle can be overwhelming. Proteins made from whey, casein and egg-whites surround you, as do a plethora of plant-based proteins such as pea, soy, rice, and of course, those extreme-looking protein powders that claim they will turn you into the incredible hulk.

So what do you choose?

Whey, a protein derived from milk, is one of the most common choices, and often praised for its complete amino acid profile. But for many, whey isn’t the best option.

Those with dairy sensitivities or allergies, or those who live a plant-based lifestyle for health or sustainability reasons, often find themselves looking for a highly-bioavailable protein option free of milk.

That’s where plant-based pea protein comes in. Pea protein is a more recent contender on the market, but is shaking things up (literally and figuratively) in the protein powder game.

But what is pea protein?

Pea protein is made by grinding dried peas into a fine powder. The starch and fiber are removed, leaving a powdered concentrated protein substance.  It is completely plant-based, unlike whey, casein, and egg-based protein powders, and therefore ideal for vegetarians and vegans.

How does it compare to other proteins on the market?

Nuzest Clean Lean Protein is pea-protein isolate based, and contains 20 grams of protein per 90 calories serving. Pea protein is also highly bioavailable and satiating.

Compare this to the overwhelmingly popular whey protein, made from milk, which contains roughly 20 grams of protein and a single gram of fiber per 100-calorie serving. Shaking in your boots yet, whey?

And as mentioned above, pea protein is allergen-friendly for those suffering from common food allergens such as dairy, wheat, soy, and egg.

Even better, pea protein is a highly sustainable protein choice, especially compared to animal proteins, which have a large carbon and water footprint (livestock, like beef and lamb, have the highest water and carbon footprints of all foods).

But what about getting a “Complete” source of protein?

Many people select animal-based protein powders over plant-based protein powders because they’re worried about getting a “complete protein,” meaning a protein that has the full panel of amino acids.

Is the humble pea complete? The short answer is yes, but let’s walk through the details:

Amino Acids:

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and are absolutely essential for human growth and cellular function.

There are 21 total amino acids, and your body needs all of them. It can make 12 of the 21 (known as the “nonessential” or “dispensable” amino acids), but you need to get 9 amino acids from the foods you eat. These are often called “essential” or “indispensable” amino acids.

There are also 6 “conditionally essential” amino acids, which can be synthesized by the body during times of physiologically distress.

Often times, people think of a protein as “complete” if it contains the 9 essential amino acids. Further, many people also still believe a plant-based protein can’t be “complete,” and that vegans must be slowly withering away from complete-protein shortages, unless they eat the essentials together.

For years, many vegetarians ate rice and beans together, worried about the complete-protein-simultaneous-consumption situation.

But scientists debunked the myth that you must consume all 9 essential amino acids at once years ago, meaning that if you eat the complete profile of amino acids over the course of time, you’ll be more than fine (so you can eat your rice now, and your beans at a later time, if you wish).

Pea Protein and Amino Acids:

Pea protein is actually rich in all essential amino acids except methionine, which it is adequate but just sort of rich in. Methionine can be easily supplemented into a plant-based diet with other plant-proteins, and is found in high amounts in foods like rice, soybeans, sunflower seeds, oats, and many nuts.

Moreover, methionine is converted to cysteine (another amino acid). Cysteine is crucial for may bodily processes, and methionine is its limiting factor in the conversion process. For this reason, they are often categorized together.

Overall, pea protein is an amino acid-rich food, and makes for a wonderful source of amino acids you need.

Where can I get pea protein?
Pea protein is being added to many foods, vegan protein bars, and is available in powder form. It’s also the star ingredient in Nuzest Clean Lean Protein.

You can also find it in the Good Green Snack Bar, Just Fruit & Veg, and Quick Vita Kick.

So go ahead, give peas a chance, and up your protein intake with this delicious, sustainable plant-based protein option.

This article written by

Katherine Baker

More articles by Katherine Baker

Nutrition & Diet

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