Pea protein: The effective vegan protein alternative

Pea protein

General information about pea protein

Proteins are not only important energy suppliers, they are also involved in a large number of important building, regeneration, structural and functional processes in the human body . These include hormone and enzyme formation, the renewal of daily worn-out body proteins, the build-up of muscle proteins (actin, myosin) and the balancing of nitrogenous compounds through sweating. 

Pea protein represents a significant source of vegetable protein – with a favorable ratio of high protein and low fat content. In 100g pea protein isolate protein powder macronutrients are present in the following proportions: Carbohydrates 3g, Fat 7g, Protein/Protein 85g. 

A study examining legumes indicated that pea protein has high levels of the amino acids lysine, leucine and arginine. (1)

Leucine is a proteinogenic amino acid, which means that it is used for building, is a component of many proteins and plays an important role in maintaining and building muscle via protein biosynthesis in muscle.  

Pea protein is obtained from peas through a series of processing steps. First, peas are cleaned and ground (in the dry state). Pea flour is produced from this. 

This is subsequently hydrated, so fiber and pea starch can be extracted. By means of a further purification step and subsequent drying, the pea protein is further processed. 

Low allergen potential, good digestibility 

Compared to soy or wheat protein, pea protein has a very low allergen potential and is easily digestible. (2) 

Pea protein does not cause discomfort in the digestive tract.(3) In addition, pea protein is vegan and gluten-free – which plays an increasingly important role for many athletes.

Biological value /  Amino acid profile: The combination makes the difference 

Biological value is a number that indicates how well a dietary protein can be used to form the body’s own protein. Specifically, it looks at how many grams of body protein can be formed from 100g of dietary protein. The more efficient the protein, the higher the biological value.

As a reference for the evaluation of proteins, a hen’s egg is used, which has a biological value of 100. The biological value of pea protein is 65. For comparison: that of milk protein is 88.

65 is not a bad value. However, there is a trick to increase it even more …

Vegetable protein sources are generally deficient in one or more essential amino acids. These are referred to as limiting amino acids. 

There is less tryptophan in pea protein, as well as the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine. However, by combining with other plant protein sources, this deficiency in certain amino acids can be compensated for – allowing for an optimal amino acid profile.

In the case of pea protein, it is recommended to combine it with, for example, hemp protein, lupine protein or rice protein

In our  RECOVERY SHAKE  we use the combination with rice protein toprovideour (professional) athletes with the best possible nutrient supply with an excellent amino acid profile . 

Pea protein for weight loss

The fact that athletes who want to lose weight are recommended a higher protein intake is no longer a secret.

The satiating effect was also found with pea protein. By taking 20g of pea protein, subjects consumed significantly fewer calories in the following meal than the placebo group. There was a break of 30 minutes between the intake of protein and the meal. 

The amount of protein supplied is also important here. No significant difference was observed with 10g of pea protein added.

Relevant studies comparing pea and whey protein

Many athletes swear by their Whey protein. But is the assumption that Whey is superior to pea protein even justified?

The investigation by a 2015 study (161 participants, 12 weeks, 3 training days/week, ingestion of powder 2 times/day at 25 g each) to compare Whey and pea protein during resistance training indicated as a result: 

Pea protein (in conjunction with weight training) increased muscle mass to a greater extent than animal-derived Whey protein powder and than the placebo (maltodextrin). Biceps muscle thickness showed the following increases: Pea protein 20.2% (± 12.3%), Whey 15.6% (± 13.5%), placebo 8.6% (± 7.3%) increase. 

Muscle strength also increased, but here there were no differences between the groups. 

So it turned out: pea protein with the rich content of BCAAs (= branched chain amino acids valine, leucine, isoleucine), which are crucially involved in muscle protein synthesis, can absolutely be used as an alternative to Whey protein. (4)

Also, the researchers of a 2019 study (participants 15 men and women, duration 8 weeks, 4 workouts/week, ingestion of powder 24 g before and after workouts on training days and between meals on non-training days) found: ingestion of pea protein yields the same results compared to Whey protein in terms of muscle thickness, body composition, strength development, workout of the day performance, and strength after an 8-week high-intensity functional training. (5)

It becomes clear that pea protein is an excellent protein alternative for endurance athletes – which is why we also use it in our  RECOVERY SHAKE  which is appreciated by many top athletes.

Sources

1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814605003687
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3172308/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7971789
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4307635/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6358922/
6. Diepvens, K.; Häberer, D.; Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008): Different proteins and biopeptides differently affect satiety and anorexigenic/orexigenic hormones in healthy humans. In: International journal of obesity
7. brandl-nutrition.com/blog/pea-protein-intake-effect-sport.

Our sports nutrition product with pea protein

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