Protein — we all need it, yet most of us don’t know how to get it. It’s an essential part of our diet and something our bodies can’t function without.
There are tons of protein products out there. From powders, like IdealLean Protein Powder, to protein bars, such as FortiFX. But, as consumers continue to learn the importance of protein, many will come across complications that may hinder their ability to consume enough on a daily basis. Allergies and preferences will limit your options, making it difficult to eat a healthy diet.
Pea protein, however, is a unique protein powder that bypasses a majority of these complications. It comes with a variety of benefits that aren’t found in other protein powders — especially plant-based ones.
Let’s learn what makes pea protein powder so special and why it might be the perfect protein for you!
What Is Pea Protein Powder?
Protein can come from a variety of sources. Chances are when you think of protein, peas are one of the last sources you’d think of. Believe it or not, peas are an excellent source of protein, containing 8 grams per every cup.
When peas are dried out, isolated from the starch and fiber, and grinded into a fine powder, you’re left with a concentrated source of protein. Unlike whey and casein protein powders, it’s a plant-based protein and ideal for vegans and vegetarians looking to avoid the use of milk or eggs.
How Nutritious Is Pea Protein Powder?
When looking at the nutritional facts for pea protein powders, there’s a lot to like and little to hate. A typical 30g-serving will amount to 100 calories, 23 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, and just 0.3 grams of fat.
Pea protein powder will also contain 400 IU of Vitamin D, 5 IU of Vitamin E, 5 mcg of Vitamin K, and 200 IU of Vitamin A. While these aren’t necessarily high amounts of vitamins, it’s a solid addition to what pea protein is already giving you.
What About Its Amino Acid Profile?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 that our body needs to function properly, nine of which are known as essential amino acids. Since our body can’t produce these nine on its own, it’s imperative we consume them through our daily diet.
One of the main reasons people gravitate towards whey and casein protein is because they’re complete proteins. Likewise, many people avoid plant-based protein because they’re incomplete proteins.
While pea protein isn’t considered to be a complete protein, it’s the closest thing you can get to one. It will technically house all nine essential amino acids, though it will be limited in one essential amino acid. Let’s take a look at the amino acid profile:
|Amino Acid||Percentage of Total AA||Per Powdered Serving|
|Aspartic Acid||12.06%||1809 mg|
|Glutamic Acid||17.47%||2621 mg|
You’ll see three amino acids that come in low amounts with pea protein powder — cystine, methionine, and tryptophan. You can find ways of getting these amino acids into your daily diet through the food you eat, or by combining your pea protein powder with another plant-based powder source like rice.
Pros And Cons With Pea Protein Powders
Pea protein powder will come with a variety of benefits and pitfalls when compared to other protein powders — both animal-based and plant-based. In hindsight, you’ll get a complete protein that’s tough to find in other plant-based protein powders.
On the other hand, you’ll also get a protein powder that can bypass the many complications experienced with animal-based proteins.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons to pea protein powders.
First and foremost, let’s summarize what we’ve learned thus far about pea protein powder. Being a complete protein, it will contain 19 different amino acids — including the nine our body can’t produce itself. This makes pea protein an excellent source of protein for anyone exercising regularly.
Nutritionally, it will contain enough protein to match what whey and casein provide (around 23 grams per serving). You’ll get a healthy amount of fiber and carbs, while only containing 0.3 grams of fat per serving. It’s also rich in iron!
In terms of percentages, pea protein isolate consists of nearly 85% protein, 7% fat, 3% carbohydrates, and 5% vitamins. Those are favorable percentages, considering whey protein is 90% protein.
When shopping for protein powder, how easily your body digests it will be an important factor into your decision. Unlike whey protein, pea protein will take longer to digest in the body. This makes it excellent for taking before bed, while giving you greater long-term health benefits.
If that’s not enough to persuade you, pea protein powder is considered to be much more “filling” than the other powders. If you’re looking to suppress your appetite throughout the day, pea protein can help.
Now, let’s take a look into some of the downfalls to pea protein powder.
On the surface, many people will assume pea protein powder will come with three major downfalls — taste, digestibility, and bloating. These could very well be experienced in some cases, but they aren’t as rare as you’d think and we’ll explain why.
First, let’s look at the taste concern. Peas aren’t generally known for their spectacular taste, so the thought of a powdered version might not sound too pleasing. The truth is, most protein powder comes with a uniquely harsh taste.
Due to the added flavors and sweeteners, this taste can be masked. With pea protein powders, this is often the case. There will still be a level of uniqueness to it, but it’s not as unbearable as you’d imagine.
Secondly, we have the digestibility concern. As we mentioned previously, our bodies will generally be slow to digest pea protein powder.
While there are pros to this, many believe that it’s due to the presence of antinutrients in the powder. In reality, these antinutrients are going to be eliminated during the process of grinding the peas into a fine powder.
Lastly, we’ll discuss the bloated concern with pea protein powder. Sure, peas are known to cause bloating, but that doesn’t mean the powdered-form will as well. Much like the presence of antinutrients, the substances that cause this in peas are going to be eliminated when the pea protein is isolated.
As you can see, a majority of the “cons” to pea protein powder are simply a matter of misunderstanding.
Best Pea Protein Powders
If you’re ready to start searching for a pea protein powder that’s right for you, chances are you’ll come across a variety of different brands and companies. They’ll all come packed with claims and guarantees, but spotting the difference between truths and lies can be a daunting task.
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of our four favorite pea protein powders available on the market today. Let’s see which one is the best fit for you!
Swanson Pea Protein Powder
If you’re looking for a light pea protein powder, Swanson Vitamins has the perfect supplement for you. You’ll receive just 16 grams of protein and 90 calories per 23g-serving (one scoop). It also contains 36% of the daily recommended intake of iron.GET THE BEST PRICE ON SWANSON PEA PROTEIN POWDER
Gardenia All-Natural Vegan Protein by Body Nutrition
I’m including this protein powder by Body Nutrition because it does contain pea protein. It will, however, contain quinoa and hemp protein as well, but that only means more benefit. Compared to Swanson’s powder, this one will give you more calories (120) and protein (20g).
On the other hand, it will require a much larger serving (38g), but you will have an option of vanilla bean and mocha flavors.GET THE BEST PRICE ON GARDENIA ALL-NATURAL VEGAN PROTEIN
Naturade Pea Protein
If you are a fan of the protein content in Gardenia, but still want a little more calories in your shake, Naturade is the way to go. It will give you a total of 140 calories, while keeping that same 20 grams of protein.
The servings will be similar (36 grams) and it will come in a vanilla flavor.GET THE BEST PRICE ON NATURADE PEA PROTEIN
Pure Pea Protein by Olympian Labs
Last on our list is Pure Pea Protein by Olympian Labs. I’ve saved this one for last because it contains the highest amount of protein and calories. Each 38g-serving will amount to 25g of protein and 150 calories, making it popular among those that workout frequently.
Pure Pea Protein by Olympian Labs will also contain nearly 50% of the recommended amount of iron.GET THE BEST PRICE ON OLYMPIAN LABS PURE PEA PROTEIN