Issues With Dairy? Try Pea Protein!
While I always encourage my clients to stick with as much whole food as possible, I know that today’s fast paced society doesn’t always allow us to fire up the stove and cook a meal from scratch. This gives the opportunity for meal replacements, better known as protein supplements. Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, just about everyone offers protein shakes and bars, which leaves you the consumer with plenty of options. I once took my niece to an indoor jungle gym, and they actually served protein shakes there (they were next to the chocolate milk).
Most of these proteins are based around dairy, so if you don’t tolerate it well or have chosen a vegan lifestyle, than these proteins aren’t going to be much use to you. However, all hope is not lost because pea protein is a reliable source of protein.
Did you say pea protein? Yes I did- peas, while usually (and hopefully) found amongst all the other vegetables in the grocery store, are a great source of protein. Turning peas into an actual pea protein powder exposes your body to a high amount of BCAA’s, which stands for branch chained amino acids. BCAA’s are essential in the muscle building process and can even help fight off the sensation of fatigue during a workout. A scoop of protein powder is about 85% protein.
Pea protein is also light on the digestive system. For those who can’t tolerate dairy (since most proteins contain lactose, the sugar found in dairy that many people have issues digesting), the digestive system isn’t irritated like it would be with dairy. Peas are also similar to whey protein in the fact that most of the protein is digested and absorbed; in fact, just about 98% of the protein in peas will be absorbed. Waste not, want not.
Researchers have been observing the effects of pea protein. While whey is considered the gold standard, pea protein has proven itself as a viable alternative. In a 12 week study that measured arm circumference and arm strength, researchers found that pea protein actually lead to more muscle thickness in the biceps than whey protein (1). Researchers concluded that pea protein would work in similar fashion to whey protein.
Lastly, pea protein can be a little lighter on your pocketbook. Since whey protein is king, pea protein can usually be purchased at somewhat less of a cost. That means more money leftover to buy other things – like the new wardrobe you’ll need after dropping a pant size and building a bit of muscle!
1. Babault, N. Paizis, C., et al. “Pea Proteins Oral Supplementation Promotes Muscle Thickness Gains During Resistance Training: a Doulbe Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial vs. Whey Protein.” (2015) Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 12;3. DOI 10. 1186/s12970