The internet is full of protein powders, dietary supplements, weight loss products and healthy eating suggestions, but it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chafe without trying them all out yourself.
If you’re following a robust set diet and/or excluding anything for any reason, the search for the right nutritional balance gets even harder as you look to weigh up your dietary requirements with a tasty but well-adjusted calorie intake.
One of the fastest-growing dietary trends of late is undoubtedly veganism, which has quadrupled in popularity in the last five years. If you’re considering cutting back your consumption of animal products or just want to avoid lactose for health reasons, the majority of protein powders, which are made with whey (a by-product of cheese), simply won’t fit into this dietary specification.
But fear not; there are increasing numbers of vegan protein powders out there, of which our favourite has to be pea protein. You may not have heard of it, but you’ll want to give it a go when you hear just how wonderfully well-rounded this 100% plant-based protein can be!
What Is Pea Protein Powder?
Pea protein powder does what it says on the tin: it’s the protein extracted from peas blended into a purpose-made protein powder. Yep, those little green balls your parents insisted you eat at dinnertime as a child are proving to be a vegan diet staple!
Peas are a naturally protein-rich legume which don’t require any interaction with animal products or by-products to grow and prosper. With that said, don’t ever assume that a product listed as containing pea protein powder is inherently vegan. There are several non-vegan (and even allergy-inducing) ingredients that can be added to the protein during processing, so ensure that you’ve checked the label and know exactly what’s in the product you’re purchasing.
But how is pea protein powder actually made? Well, green and yellow split peas are dried out before being ground into a fine powdery flour, while the residual water content and naturally occurring starch are removed. This process leaves behind all of the organic protein, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Despite having been minimally processed, pea protein is still choc-a-block full of premium nutritional content and essential fatty acids. So, let’s take a closer look at the key benefits of this super-charged plant-based protein.
6 Amazing Pea Protein Powder Benefits
Take That, Whey! Pea Protein Is Great at Building Muscle
When looking for protein products and other supplements to tone and build muscle, you’ll find that most contain whey protein, which is frequently marketed as the best source of protein for muscle growth.
But when stacked up against whey protein, the protein content of pea protein is similar. This depends on the individual brand of the powder, but often, the result is the same amount of protein per grams to that within whey, or in some cases, a couple of grams more. Impressive, huh?
There are some differences between pea protein and whey protein to be aware of, though – and you may be surprised to hear that they’re all positive! Pea protein powder is naturally free from fats and cholesterol, unlike whey, and is processed in a ‘greener’, more environmentally friendly way.
Clinical studies comparing the results achieved through the consumption of pea protein to whey protein proved no additional muscle-building benefit as a result of consuming whey protein. Pea protein powder stands up well to other options and in many cases, better them, making it a clear competitor to its more popular counterpart as a natural and vegan alternative.
The Nutribuddy High Protein Sculpting Shake, for example, is made with pea and rice protein rather than whey and contains gluten-free oats, entirely natural ingredients and no stabilisers, emulsifiers, thickeners or preservatives. If you’re looking for a protein boost which is effective, cruelty-free and environmentally-friendly, a whey-free shake like this could just be your perfect match.
Plus, It Contains All the Essential Amino Acids
Proteins are referred to as either ‘complete’ or ‘incomplete’, and in protein powders, you’ll usually find complete proteins used as the primary ingredient. Pea protein is known as a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.
Amino acids allow your body to carry out numerous vital functions, including muscle building and growth, nutrient transportation and the prevention of illness. Without them, you could experience digestive problems, depression, decreased immunity and even infertility. Yep, they’re called essential for a reason!
You don’t need to know or memorise the nine essential amino acids for your diet, but they are:
Consuming all nine essential amino acids from one product means that you don’t need to seek them in any other foodstuff. However, many other vegan proteins – such as rice and those from grains and nuts – don’t include all of these amino acids. This puts pea protein, at the top of the protein pedestal once again!
It’s Totally Vegan & Cruelty-Free!
Peas are a vegetable, so you’d probably already guessed that a key benefit of pea protein powder is that it’s suitable for vegetarians.
However, there’s no naturally occurring dairy or animal byproducts within pea protein, and no need to add them during the manufacturing process. This means that pea protein is an entirely plant-based, cruelty-free product which can sit happily within a vegan or lactose-free diet, too.
With benefits ranging from a lower carbon footprint, increase nutritional intake and, of course, a cleaner conscience in terms of animal welfare, following a vegan diet or simply adding more vegan alternatives to your diet is an absolute no-brainer.
Gluten-Intolerant? Pea Protein Powder Is Naturally Gluten-Free
With more people becoming better informed and aware of external impacts on their health and wellbeing, more are choosing to avoid gluten in their diet.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that attacks the gut wall when it detects the proteins within gluten. Other non-coeliac sensitivity and intolerance can cause similar but less harmful symptoms and those suffering from them should still avoid gluten.
Therefore, a key benefit of pea protein powder is that it’s naturally gluten-free and suitable for pretty much everybody. While whey itself is gluten-free, it’s often combined with wheat, rye or barley in the case of protein shakes and bars, which means they’re unsuitable for those following a gluten-free diet. The Nutribuddy High-Protein Sculpting Shake, however, is packed with pea protein and is also completely free from gluten and other allergens. Win-win!
It’s Easy on the Stomach for Those with Allergies
Peas are, of course, a vegetable, and can be grown organically with no external or synthetic interference. When combined with clean and natural ingredients, pea protein powder is easy on the stomach and contains no allergens or irritants.
This may seem common sense, but it really isn’t for lots of protein powder brands, as it’s cheaper and quicker to mix them with artificial components to make up a product for mainstream sale. Avoid manmade ingredients and stay organic to best benefit your health and achieve the results you want to, healthily.
Studies have shown that pea protein powder is easier to digest than its counterparts, as it digests down to small particles in vitro (unlike casein proteins, which dissolve). Legumes are often reputed for promoting gas production, but the processing of the peas into a powder removes this quality – so it’s just about the easiest possible way you can consume them!
Pea protein powder is also naturally soy-free, which is unusual for a vegan protein blend, despite soy being one of the fourteen most common food allergies.
Pea Protein for Weight Loss? Sure, It Can Help!
Pea protein benefits include a healthy contribution to weight loss when consumed as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle.
Low in carbohydrates yet high in protein, pea protein sits well with a variety of other foods… even if perhaps you’re not eating everything you should be all the time! The real plus of pea protein compared to others is that it triggers the release of the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone produced by the small intestine which is commonly known as the ‘hunger hormone’ because it increases appetite.
When released into the bloodstream, it’s been shown to increase food intake by up to 30%. However, ghrelin doesn’t just make you hungry. It actually stimulates the release of growth hormones which break down fat tissue and build and tone muscle. With a protein-packed shake, you’ll feel full for hours, so the ghrelin released has only a positive effect in helping to tone up and lose any excess weight.
Hey, Popeye! Pea Protein Powder Is a Great Source of Iron
Of course, you’re bargaining on your protein powder blend containing a large dose of protein, and pea protein does contain just that – but there’s more in there than just pure protein!
Despite common misconceptions that vegan products are deficient in it, pea protein powder is a rich source of iron. On average, pea protein contains between 25-30% of an adult’s daily recommended intake of iron, and this is as a result of the naturally occurring non-heme iron within the legume as its grown.
There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron comes primarily from meat and non-heme from plants, so the latter is found within plant protein. Iron is essential for the circulation of blood and oxygen in the body and important for metabolism. If an individual is even slightly deficient in iron (a condition which is more common in women than men), they can experience fatigue, nausea, heart palpitations and breathing difficulties. The consumption of pea protein powder can help alleviate these symptoms and rectify the deficiency.
While pea protein powder is a great way to naturally boost your iron intake, it’s advisable to speak to your GP or healthcare professional if you suspect you’re suffering from anaemia.
The Bottom Line
Pea protein powder’s benefits are numerous and varied. As well as being completely cruelty-free and vegan, pea protein is rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals and remains completely allergen-free and easy to digest. No complaints there, right?!
Nutribuddy embraces the superior quality of pea protein compared to its more mainstream counterparts and integrates it as part of our clean eating, nutritionally complete product range. The Nutribuddy High Protein Sculpting Shake is a low-calorie vegan-friendly protein shake that complements an active lifestyle and regular exercise to aid the building and toning of muscle mass.
Of course, it contains the king of vegan protein – pea protein powder – in addition to rice protein and gluten-free oats, to keep you feeling full and satisfied for hours. It’s easy to make up and convenient to consume on-the-go, boasting a nutritional profile of over 56% protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals – all hand-picked for the recipe by expert nutritionists.
So, there you have it. If you’re serious about nutrition and nourishment and want to take care of yourself by only consuming the highest quality and most beneficial plant-based foodstuffs, then pea protein powder is for you. It ticks dietary boxes you’d probably not even thought about before and yields fantastic results without resorting to cruelty. It may not yet have hit the mainstream in the protein market, but it’s certainly on the up – so jump into the pod before it becomes too crowded. Your body will thank you for it!