We’ve all heard of whey protein, casein protein, hemp protein, and heck, even egg protein. These are all very common types of protein powder that consumers like you, and I love to consume. But, have you ever heard of pea protein powder? It’s not a common one, and people tend to neglect it when there are options like whey and casein. Some people don’t even know that the vegetable pea actually provide protein. But, what if I told you that these little green spheres can promise you some pretty serious gains. Yeah, I know, hard to believe. What is pea protein powder? Let’s find out
The Makeup Of Peas
I bet you didn’t think you were going to learn the structure and composition of the common garden pea, did you? Well, before they’re turned into a powder, they need to be actually grown. Peas have been consumed by humans for hundreds of years all over the world, grown in different colors. These include, of course, green, yellow, black, and even purple. It should be noted that, technically, peas are not vegetables, which is shocking. As a kid, you’re parents always told you to eat your vegetables, and peas always happen to be there. Since peas come in pods, they are thrown into the legumes family, with foods including lentils, chickpeas, and beans.
However, peas are considered vegetables for their source of starchy carbohydrates. Imagine if you took a handful of peas and starting chowing down on them. The macronutrient you’ll get most out of that handful will be carbohydrates, and not protein. The starchy carbs make up about 60%-70% of a pea, with protein filling in the rest of that percentage. However, in comparison with other vegetables, peas prove to be one of the best plant-based protein sources.
Comparing 1 cup of peas with 1 a cup of carrots, peas provided about 8 grams of protein while carrots only accumulated to 2 grams. That’s literally four times the amount of protein in the same cup when paired up against each other. It doesn’t only push over carrots. It leaves the broccoli in its wake too. In one cup of broccoli, there are only 4 grams of protein. Two gram better than carrots, but still nowhere near the legume champion. Don’t believe me? Find out for yourself. I’ll leave the links to the nutrition facts of peas, carrots, and broccoli so you can check them out for yourself.
How Is Pea Protein Powder Made?
Now that we got the whole back story of our favorite green sphered vegetables out of the way, it’s time to talk about how they’re made into a supplement. After I explain it to you, you might think that anything could be made into a protein powder. The process of making peas into a powder is basically just griding it up, and removing some of its other nutrients to leave protein isolated. What is pea protein powder? That’s what it is, grind up peas with isolated protein in them. There’s a little more that goes into it, however.
There’s a reason why pea protein powder is entirely plant-based because it contains only pea protein. Macronutrients like fiber and carbohydrates are extracted from peas once crushed, leading to what is called pea protein isolate. From here, companies may throw in additives or preservatives to give it flavor and produce a protein powder. For a lot of vegan protein powders, if you take a look at the back on the nutrition label, I say 9 times out of 10, you’ll find a source of peas will be right there. It’s rich in protein, with a combination of other great plant-based ingredients, it makes for some solid protein powders.
Pea Protein vs. Whey Protein
This is most likely on everyone’s mind, sure as heck was on mine when doing this research. How does pea protein powder stack up against the iconic whey protein powder? If you’re behind on your whey protein knowledge, I’ll leave you an article I wrote that fills you on it if you click here. If you need just a quick recap, whey protein is a byproduct extracted from cows milk that is a common source of protein in protein powders. (the other product being casein) It’s the most commonly consumed protein supplement on the planet, due to its great taste, filling factor, and outstanding results it provides. Now that we got that out of the way let’s talk about some advantages pea protein has over whey protein.
As the biggest advantage, pea protein or any plant-based protein has over whey, which is the smaller risk factor people have of having allergic reactions. You see, dairy allergies are very common around the world. This prevents people from tasting foods that come from cows, like yogurt, ice cream, and milk. Since whey comes from milk, you can mark that off the list too. The symptoms from this allergy include vomiting, hives, and even anaphylaxis symptoms. These anaphylaxis symptoms are the more severe ones, which may lead to tightness of your throat and overall trouble breathing. Pretty scary, I know.
Pea protein completely wipes out that possibility out of the picture its source coming from peas. Pea allergies are not at all common, so the chances of you being allergic is not very high. It’s safe to consume a pea protein powder for almost everyone, can’t say the same for whey, however or casein for that matter. You can drink pea protein isolate without worrying about having trouble breathing or beginning to vomit everywhere. Not to mention, when making the powder, gluten is extracted in the process, another common allergen out there. If you’d to know more about the allergic risks of protein powders, click here for an in-depth article, I wrote about them.
Digestion, more or less, goes hand-in-hand with allergies. If you can’t digest it, don’t even bother eating it. Whey protein is a hard digesters for many people, more people that have an allergy to it. This is because of people having lactose intolerance. Why didn’t I put lactose intolerance up there with the allergies section? That’s because it isn’t an allergic reaction, it’s just a digestion problem that occurs within many people. You see, lactose is the sugar in milk, and when consumed, an enzyme called lactase, very convenient name, breaks it down to digest. Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions, in this case with lactase, speed up the digestion of lactase.
Some people have enough lactase in their digestive system to break down lactose fully, these people are lactose tolerant. It’s not common to hear, but it basically means you can drink milk without any trouble. Now, a lot of people don’t produce enough lactase in their bodies to break down lactose fully. This leads to extra lactose in your body, just sitting their, fermenting, eventually being brought to your colon. Which is what we don’t want. This leads to the known side effects of lactose intolerance, like bloating, gassiness, vomiting, diarrhea, and or stomach cramps.
Since pea protein isn’t made of milk, obviously, lactose intolerance doesn’t play a role in any of this. Drinking a pea shake couldn’t be any simpler for your body, being completely plant-based an all. As a matter of fact, pea protein is one of the best-absorbed protein that exists out there. The digestibility percentage stands at around 98%, meaning 98% of amino acids were absorbed into your bloodstream after digestion. Amino acids being the building blocks of protein, the real heroes in building muscle.
There you have it, what is pea protein powder? A solid protein supplement that is critically underrated. It holds great benefits and advantages over top dogs like whey and casein. It only makes you wonder why plant-based protein is so neglected when animal-based protein is brought into consideration. But that’s a topic for another article soon.
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