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Is Pea Protein Good for You? (6 Benefits You Need to Know)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 31, 2022

In my ten-year fitness career, I've continuously rotated my protein powders to ensure I benefit from all as much as I can.

I recently included pea protein powder into the rotation because, after months of research and testing, I discovered it might be better than most animal protein powders I've been stuck with.

Today I'll share why pea protein powder is good for you and why you should consider using it as an addition to your gym stack.

Quick Summary

  • Pea protein powder is a good source of vegan protein.
  • It has a satiating effect; hence it's good for weight loss.
  • Pea protein powder is packed with essential amino acids suitable for muscle building.
  • Excessive consumption of pea protein powder can cause kidney impairment.

What Is Pea Protein?

Pea protein powder in a bowl with chickpea

Pea protein is a protein supplement obtained from green and yellow split peas.

It is an excellent dairy-free protein source, particularly if you're allergic to dairy products because it is naturally gluten-free and doesn’t cause food allergies.

Pea protein comes in these three forms:

  • Pea protein isolates: This kind solely has the protein formulated by removing most other components found in peas.
  • Pea protein concentrate: This kind has a higher protein content despite the possibility that it still contains other pea substances.
  • Pea protein hydrolysates: These are substances that use particular techniques, such as heat, acid, or enzymes, to break down the protein gradually.

Pea protein digests more slowly than casein and other popular dairy protein powders and absorbs more quickly than whey proteins.

This is why pea protein is the best option if you're looking for a quicker and more effective post-workout recovery fix [1].

Pea protein is significantly more filling than whey protein, making it advantageous for people who want to suppress their hunger [2].

It’s for this reason that I recommend it to my clients who are working on losing weight and want to limit their craving for junk and unnecessary calories.

Pea Protein Powder Nutritional Value

Pea protein powder is nutritionally packed with the following elements per serving.

  • Calories: 120g
  • Total fat: 2g
  • Protein: 25g
  • Sodium: 288g
  • Calcium: 50g
  • Iron: 9g

Keep in mind that the nutritional value of pea protein powders may vary depending on the brand and manufacturer.

6 Health Benefits of Pea Protein Powder

An athletic person hanging

Here are some of the proven health benefits of pea protein powder.

1. Improves General Athletic Performance

Pea protein may aid in muscle growth and post-workout recovery for athletes.

Leucine, isoleucine, and valine, branched-chain amino acids required for muscle growth and repair, can be found in pea protein in significant amounts [3].

Researchers have discovered that amino acids, like Leucine, in supplements with hydrolyzed protein are readily available for tissue repair during activity that damages muscle fibers and other types of muscular injury [4].

Some studies suggest that pea protein powders may benefit athletes by relieving muscular soreness, hastening the recuperation process after exercise, and boosting gains in lean muscle mass [5].

2. Reduces High Blood Pressure Risks

Measuring a person's blood pressure

Pea protein might lower blood pressure because it has the amino acid arginine, which lowers hepatic cholesterol concentration and relaxes blood vessel walls [6].

The peptides created when pea protein is hydrolyzed or digested may also have blood pressure-lowering properties [7].

In controlled research with individuals with high blood pressure, it was shown that taking a combo protein isolate supplement made from peas lowers high blood pressure.

Hydrolyzed pea protein decreased systolic blood pressure by 19 mmHg [8].

3. Helps With Weight Loss

Pea protein can help people lose weight fast.

Thirty minutes before a meal, subjects ingested 20 grams of either casein protein, whey protein, pea protein, or water.

Pea protein was second to casein in terms of reducing appetite, which led to individuals ingesting less food overall [9].

"As a natural thickener, pea protein will particularly aid in satiety."

- Ralf Jager, Ph.D. FISSN

Pea supplements contain a modest amount of carbohydrates, about two to three grams per serving. This means taking pea protein equals taking fewer carbs overall.

4. Simple to Digest and Bioavailable

Close up image of pea protein powder

Pea protein contains an 86% digestibility rate, which should be safe if you experience gastrointestinal pain from protein powders [10].

Most of this protein is easily broken down and absorbed in your system without straining the gut.

5. Has Every Essential Amino Acid

Peas have 90% complete proteins, and their high-quality protein sources are full of vital amino acids.

The nine necessary amino acids are valine, isoleucine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, threonine, lysine, methionine, histidine, and Leucine, and it contains all of them [11].

These nine amino acids are necessary for the body to carry out crucial bodily activities.

6. High Iron Content

A person flexing his muscles

The body needs iron to transport oxygen to all parts efficiently.

Most dietary pea proteins have seven or more milligrams of iron per serving, which is more than a quarter of the recommended 12mg and 18 mg daily for women and men, respectively [12].

The body poorly absorbs plant iron, but vitamin C supplements and brown rice can fasten the process [13].

Pea protein can significantly boost iron if you're a vegan who doesn't receive iron nutrition from animal or dairy products.

Pea Protein Dosage and Consumption

Top view of pea protein powder with spoon

If you're a bodybuilder, pea protein powder is the easiest, most effective way to guarantee more protein intake for building muscle mass better than soy protein.

The highest efficient dose of protein for gaining muscle is 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day [14].

However, limiting your protein intake to no more than 2.3 grams per pound of body mass per day or no more than 35% of your total calories is crucial.

This is because overly high quantities of protein may strain your liver and kidneys to absorb it quickly, leading to adverse effects like nausea, diarrhea, and even death [15].

For maximum results, I recommend you take your pea protein powder 30-60 minutes before your high-intensity functional training like HIIT exercises for weight loss.

I would suggest scooping the powder and diluting it in water, juice, or smoothie. If you have extra time before your gym session, you can add the protein powder to your muffin and pancake mixture and cook them together.

2 Potential Side Effects of Pea Protein

A woman with hurt kidney

Pea protein hydrolysate is a quality source of plant-based protein, but consuming it in excess might have the following side effects.

1. Impaired Kidney Health

If you have kidney-related problems, seek expert advice before consuming pea protein powder.

Pea protein has excess purine levels that the kidneys convert into uric acid. In moderation, purines are not harmful, but high dosages can make it difficult for your kidney to excrete excess uric acid.

This can cause inflammation, joint pains, and gout [16].

2. High Sodium

Pea protein powder has a high sodium content, between 150 and 390 mg per serving, depending on the type.

As a result, if you're on a low-sodium diet, you may need to watch your pea protein intake.

FAQs

Can You Build Muscle With Pea Protein?

Yes, you can build muscle with pea protein because it has numerous amino acids for muscle growth.

How Well Is Pea Protein Absorbed?

Pea protein is absorbed better than most animal protein powders like casein.

Is Pea Protein Better Than Normal Protein?

Pea protein is better than normal protein, particularly for people allergic to dairy products.

Will Pea Protein Make Me Gain Weight?

Yes, pea protein will make you gain weight only if you consume it daily without regular exercise.

Choose The Right Pea Protein Powder

With many brands of supplements with plant-based proteins available, it can be tough to find what's legit and works well as a vegan-friendly product.

I spent months reviewing and testing all pea protein products available and narrowed them down to the six best pea protein powders.

Gluten and GMO-free, these complete-protein powders are packed with all the nine essential amino acids and almost zero carbs - everything you need for effective muscle building and weight loss.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468723/
  2. https://symbiosisonlinepublishing.com/nutritionalhealth-foodscience/nutritionalhealth-foodscience65.php
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568273/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7231404/
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323093&
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2728371/
  7. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf201911p&ved=
  8. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf201911p#
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295702/
  10. https://www.fda.gov/media/134207/download%
  11. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Amino-acid-composition-of-raw-and-processed-pea-mg-100-g-of-product-means-standard_tbl1_45492297
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222309/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6940487/
  14. https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/protein-intake-for-optimal-muscle-maintenance.pdf&ved
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1262767
  16. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/high-uric-acid-level/basics/causes/sym-20050607%

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