What is pea protein?
Peas have been pushed to the edge of the plate for generations. Finally this little legume is finding redemption. Peas have made their way into an unlikely arena, one traditionally held by meat, cheese, eggs, and whey. Pea has come out as a powerhouse of protein and is quickly rising up the ranks as it appears in more and more supplements designed to increase endurance, boost energy, build muscle, and help people lose weight.
Protein is an important nutrient, but most of our sources aren’t always the best. Meat and eggs come with saturated fats, extra calories, and cholesterol, not to mention they’re pretty hard on the kidneys. Whey is also rough on the kidneys and causes bloating, gas, and other digestive problems. Soy is an allergen and contains estrogen mimicking compounds that mess with hormones. Now pea protein powder can truly shine through.
Benefits of pea protein
Digestibility – The proteins in this legume are 95–98% digestible, allowing for maximized absorption. This means the body gets access to them quickly and can put them to use right away where they are needed most.
Quality – Peas also contain essential amino acids that are often lacking in other vegetables, like lysine. Each essential amino acid cannot be created by the body and must come from the foods we eat.
Allergen Free – Unlike soy, whey, milk, and cheese, pea is not an allergen and allergic reactions to it are extremely rare. Pea protein powder also doesn’t contain gluten like many grains and no lactose.
Energy – Protein is essential in building strong bones, muscles, and healthy tissue. It also goes into a multitude of enzymes the body uses to produce energy, transport nutrients, carry oxygen, and complete thousands of other tasks. Protein isn’t stored in the body like many other nutrients, so a good, healthy, and steady supply is needed each day. You don’t need massive amounts, but you do need the right amino acids. Pea protein does a great job of supplying them.
Muscle Building – The rich amino acids in pea are perfect for repairing and rebuilding muscle. After exercise the muscle tissue is torn from the workout and needs an immediate supply of the right amino acids to repair these tears and layer extra muscle fiber over the top. The highly digestible and absorbable nature of pea protein means you can take it just before or just after a workout and get amino acids to the rescue quickly.
Loss – Peas help regulate appetite and aid in weight loss. Pea protein is a low calorie food without the unhealthy fats found in meat and animal proteins.
Kidney and Heart – The protein from peas, especially yellow peas, has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure while being gentle on the kidneys. It may actually prevent kidney problems.
Less Processed – Since peas are so rich in protein, this protein doesn’t require chemicals and a ton of processing to extract it from the carbohydrates.
Flavor and Texture – Pea protein powder has a less chalky, fluffier texture than most other protein powders and a naturally nutty sweet flavor. It is often combined with rice protein, another allergen free option, to create a more balanced amino acid profile and to combine their textures. Many feel this combination yields one of the best tasting protein powders.