What is Pea Protein? Benefits, Uses and Myth Busting
When it comes to selecting the right protein powder, the search can be rather overwhelming. With so many options to choose from, the hunt for the perfect protein can often feel like a tedious task! To help make protein shopping nice and simple, we at Nutravita have developed a range of protein-packed plant-based protein powders. The base of our Vegan Protein blend is made using pea protein, brown rice protein, and hemp protein, and it also includes digestive enzymes to help you get the most from the protein. Through harnessing the power of plant-based pea protein, each of our blends are packed with all 9 essential amino acids, which offer a range of health-boosting benefits!
Here are 5 reasons why you want to add this nutritional powerhouse legume to your fitness routine.
It’s a “Complete” Protein
Pea protein is a great source of plant-based protein, as it’s rich in a range of amino acids needed to support the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. It’s regarded as a “complete” protein because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. These amino acids are known as Histidine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Methionine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, Threonine and Valine. These nine essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, and need to be sourced from your diet. As most plant-based foods are often low in one or more of the nine proteins, pea protein is considered to be an excellent choice in the world of plant-based protein!
Rich in BCAAs
Aside from being a “complete” protein, pea-protein contains branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs. They’re made up of a group of 3 amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine). These specific amino acids are essential for building lean muscle mass, repairing muscles, and are especially helpful after exercise as they help to preserve and support muscle tissue after a tough workout!
Since BCAAs cannot be made by our bodies, it's vital to obtain them from the foods that we eat. They’re usually found in animal and dairy products, it’s easy to source them from pea protein too! In fact, research suggests that pea protein can build muscle just as well as dairy-based protein powders thanks to its impressive BCAA profile.
Our supplement is designed to be suitable for both men and women, as well as being free from GMO, nuts, gluten, lactose, and wheat. The added Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 both contribute to energy-yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue (claims substantiated by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).
Helps Keep Your Heart Health in Check
Various studies have demonstrated pea protein’s ability to help protect cardiovascular health. It’s thought to promote heart-healthy by lowering blood pressure and decreasing total cholesterol. This could be because pea protein contains nutrients that naturally protect the heart such as potassium and various heart-protecting antioxidants and at the same time is free of damaging saturated fats and cholesterol, which are typically found in non-plant-based products.
Great Option for Those Who Are Lactose Intolerant
When compared to whey protein, pea protein is digested nice and easily. Since whey is derived from dairy, it can cause various issues for people with dairy sensitivity or intolerance and can leave many feeling bloated, gassy and with an upset stomach. This is a pretty big deal as approximately 65% of the population has a low ability to absorb lactose making whey a poor option for their protein needs! Fortunately, you can fight the bloat whilst boosting your protein intake with pea protein as it’s free of lactose and is not derived from any of the eight most common allergenic foods (eggs, peanuts, milk, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat and tree nuts).
Improved Weight Management
Pea protein is low in calories and is free from the saturated fats that are found in meat and dairy products. It’s also rich in dietary fibre and of course protein which are both key nutrients that can help support weight management by helping you stay fuller for longer. Interestingly, research suggests that pea protein lowers the secretion of the hunger-stimulating hormone known as ghrelin, and this effect can go on to help reduce appetite and those mid-morning hunger cravings!
Nutritionist’s tip: You could pair your pea protein powder with high-fibre foods, such as apples, lentils, whole grains, oats, and psyllium husk, all of which are packed in fibre to help keep you fuller for longer between meals and help you get closer to your weight loss goals.
Most commonly asked questions about plant-based protein…
Isn’t protein powder just for bodybuilders?
Sure, protein powder is important for bodybuilders, but it isn’t only made for them! Protein is a vital macronutrient in the diet and should be consumed by all of us every day for healthy hormone production, immune function, skin repair, muscle growth, enzyme production, as well as hair and nail growth.
Is plant-based protein just as good as whey?
Move over whey protein, plant-based protein is the new kid on the block. Plant-based proteins such as pea protein (found in our protein powders) offer a similar amino acid profile to whey with high levels of essential amino acids (amino acids our body cannot make) with the added benefit of being lactose-free – wave goodbye to gas and bloating! In fact, research suggests that plant-based proteins can be just as beneficial for muscle growth and strength as animal-derived proteins such as whey.
Will protein make me feel bloated?
Whey protein is typically the most common culprit when it comes to the so-called protein bloat. And that’s because whey protein contains lactose. However, plant-protein powders in general are unlikely to leave you feeling bloated, since they are lactose-free and because most of the starch is removed when obtaining the protein.
The best banana protein pancakes you could whip up for breakfast within minutes
If you're after a quick and easy way to use your protein powder in a recipe, these banana protein pancakes are easily the most delicious protein-packed plant-based pancakes to start the day!
- 1 large (ripe) banana
- 1.5 cups dairy-free milk
- 1 scoop vanilla/chocolate protein powder
- 1.5 cup rolled oats
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp agave syrup
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Add the rolled oats, banana, milk and protein powder into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Pour a quarter of your batter into a preheated frying pan.
- Wait for around 30-45 seconds (or until golden on the bottom), then flip the pancake with a spatula and repeat.
- Top with your favourite fruit, pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Riya Lakhani ANutr is a registered nutritionist and health writer with a special interest in plant-based nutrition. She has completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, and has developed a passion for writing about all things plant-based.