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Pea Protein

Quick Summary Points

  • Pea protein powder is a vegetarian protein supplement that is derived mostly from yellow split peas
  • Pea protein has a high digestibility rate & this is increased depending on the type of pea protein
  • Good alternative protein source for those who are lactose intolerant or can’t take dairy
  • Pea protein can easily be stacked with all supplements and especially with fat burners and other fat loss supplements

The world of protein supplements is growing day by day. With more brands, greater demand and innovation comes more variety in the industry. No longer are you confined to either milk based proteins or soy based proteins, now you have access to wide variety of other proteins including beef protein, fish protein, rice protein, hemp protein and the fast growing pea protein.

Pea Protein Powder

Pea protein powder is a vegetarian protein supplement that is derived mostly from yellow split peas. A sustainable source of protein, pea protein generally has a high digestibility rate at around 90-95% depending on the source and the form of protein. Pea protein also has the additional benefit of being hypoallergenic due to the absence of common allergens and intolerance ingredients such as lactose, gluten and wheat. It does not contain common compounds such as lactase or gluten which many people might be intolerant to. As with whey proteins, pea protein can be in concentrate form, isolate form and hydrolysate form – all of which have increasing digestibility and absorbability. An extremely satiating protein, pea protein has been shown in studies to result in decreased food intake when compared to whey1, making it an extremely suitable protein source for those aiming for weight loss, fat loss and improved body composition. In addition, pea protein has the potential to help lower blood pressure2.Pea protein powder is often mixed with another hypoallergenic protein; rice protein. This is because they complement each other in terms of amino acid composition. Pea protein is unfortunately lower in the amino acids, cysteine and methionine, but higher in the amino acid lysine. Rice protein on the other hand contains higher amounts of cysteine and methionine, but is lacking in lysine, making it an extremely suitable complement for pea protein. Pea protein can easily be stacked with all supplements and especially with fat burners and other fat loss supplements due to its ability to help support weight loss due to its high satiety value and its protein content, which can help you sustain and grow metabolically active lean muscle tissue.

Pea Protein Isolate

Pea protein can be separated just like other protein supplements into different purity’s including pea protein concentrate and pea protein isolate. Pea protein concentrates typically have a protein content of over 80% with the rest coming from predominantly carbohydrates and a bit of fat. Pea protein isolates however tend to have a higher protein value at usually over 90% protein and lower in carbohydrates and fat.

Pea Protein Nutrition Information

Pea Protein contains most of the amino acids in high amounts, especially the essential amino acid lysine. However pea protein is lacking in the sulphurous amino acids of cysteine and methionine, which is often why pea proteins are either fortified, mixed with rice protein or hydrolysed wheat protein which is higher in cysteine and methionine or mixed in with rice milk.

Pea Protein Benefits

As previously mentioned, pea protein is extremely hypo-allergenic, even more so than soy. Devoid of the common allergens such as lactose, gluten and wheat and milk proteins, pea protein is also a sustainable and environmentally friendly protein. Pea protein does not require external pollination and the crops tend to draw nitrogen from the air, so do not require the use of external fertilisers. Unlike soy protein, pea protein has no negative health consequences associated with it and furthermore, pea protein is an extremely cost-effective protein source.

Pea Protein Taste & Mixability

Pea protein tends to have a grainier texture than whey protein and soy protein, but is not entirely unpleasant. The texture of pea protein supplements tends to increase satiety and fullness as compared to smoother, more fluid proteins, which is beneficial for those looking at weight loss and fat loss or those using protein supplements for a meal replacement. Pea protein is naturally slightly sweet and the flavour profile is enhanced when mixed with cold rice milk.

Pea Protein vs Whey

While whey protein does contain more branched chain amino acids and a higher protein content, your body only really requires 20g of protein in a single sitting to exert its beneficial effects on muscle protein synthesis. Furthermore, pea protein tends to have the highest arginine content of most protein sources including that of whey. Increased arginine intake has the following benefits for trainers:

a) Exogenous sources of arginine can help to promote growth hormone release
b) Involved in the synthesis of creatine
c) Precursor to nitric oxide synthesis

All the above factors can impact positively on training and performance over that of simply increase muscle protein synthesis. In terms of digestion rate, pea protein has an intermediate fast digestion rate, which affords you a longer period of amino acid delivery to the muscles.

Pea Protein Supplements

Pea protein is a rising star in the protein and supplement market due to its high digestibility and bioavailability, its low allergenic nature and it being a sustainable and cost-effective source of protein. So if you were after a good alternative source of protein, pea protein is definitely one of the best choices on the market today.

1. Abou-Samra R, Keersmaekers L, Brienza D, Mukherjee R, Macé K. ‘Effect of different protein sources on satiation and short-term satiety when consumed as a starter.’ Nutr J. 2011 Dec 23;10:139. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-139.
2. Li H, Prairie N, Udenigwe CC, Adebiyi AP, Tappia PS, Aukema HM, Jones PJ, Aluko RE. ‘Blood pressure lowering effect of a pea protein hydrolysate in hypertensive rats and humans.’ J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Sep 28;59(18):9854-60. doi: 10.1021/jf201911p. Epub 2011 Sep 2.

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