Pea Protein versus Whey Protein—Which Is Best?
By Daine McDonald
Founder & CEO of The Clean Health Fitness Institute
With all the information on the internet these days it is easy to be confused about what is best when it comes to achieving your health & fitness goals. When it comes to nutrition, it is even harder to be sure that you are fuelling your body correctly to achieve the desired outcome.
Over the last decade, I have educated over 6000 personal trainers, nutritionists, and dietitians and one of the most common questions I get from them and they get from clients’, centres around one of the most commonly purchased supplements on the planet, which is of course protein powders.
Now we must remember that whey protein, rice protein and pea protein all have their strengths and weaknesses depending on the person consuming it and why they are taking it in the first place.
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When it comes to whey protein, firstly we need to understand that it is a fast acting protein source. Meaning that it is best utilised for example post workout as it will promote lean muscle tissue growth and recovery after strenuous physical activity.
Some benefits of whey protein include the following:
- It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids (EAA) including the branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) like leucine, which is the most anabolic i.e.; growth promoting of all the amino acids.
- Because of the above fact, whey protein is most effective in conjunction with weight training at slowing down age related muscle loss, which apart from helping aesthetically helps you retain a stronger and healthier body.
- As it’s dairy based and dairy has been linked to lowering blood pressure, it can be great for those at risk of hypertension, although that doesn’t mean you should just drink protein shakes all day if you have high blood pressure!
- Whey protein is a precursor for creatine, which is stored in our muscles. Creatine has great athletic performance benefits including assisting in strength and hypertrophy of the muscle tissue, this is important when trying to build lean muscle tone.
- Whey has a high concentration of the amino acid cysteine, which is known as a tri-peptide along with glutamine and glycine. Together they form glutathione, which is the most powerful anti-oxidant in the body and a potent detoxifying agent. So, in summary it will keep you looking younger whilst helping you drop excessive body fat.
Pea-protein on the other hand, is often under-rated by many serious gym enthusiasts as it is derived from non-animal based protein sources and is therefore considered an incomplete protein source. However, this is not entirely true because as a slow acting protein source, pea-protein as a rule of thumb is great at stabilising blood sugar levels and therefore insulin throughout the day, meaning it can really help those who suffer from high and low energy fluctuations and increased visceral fat around their midsection.
Some benefits of pea protein include the following:
- It is amazing to use for those who experience dairy sensitivity or allergies from consuming too much dairy. Pea protein is hypoallergenic, meaning that your body will not build up an intolerance to it, so I find it a great choice from those who struggle with either consuming dairy at all or too much of it. So, with pea protein you are less likely to suffer from that post shake bloat!
- Like its cousin whey, it is also rich in branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) which are the building blocks of muscle.
- Because it is a plant based protein source, it takes a little longer for your gut to digest, meaning it is a slow acting protein. This can have great benefits in relation to promoting a feeling of fullness and reducing cravings in those who are more susceptible to them!
- Pea protein is gluten free, so if you have allergies or intolerances to gluten it is a great alternative.
Which protein is best for you?
So, as you can see, both options have their benefits depending on your goals and unique biochemistry. Personally, I believe moderation is the key, hence why I recommend most people choose a protein product which blends both pea and whey proteins together, so that they get not only the initial protein spike, but also a slow acting one which will assist them with their cravings throughout the day.
I personally recommend the NutriSlim Toning Fit Protein shake from Bioglan as it not only contains both whey and pea proteins, but also contains one of the most potent fat burning amino acids L-carnitine, which acts as fuel to your mitochondria. Now the mitochondria are the part of the cell responsible for burning off our calories, so obviously, another win if fat loss and building toned, lean muscle is your goal.
In summary, choose a balanced protein option to assist your strength, fat loss and muscle building goals and remember that like with all supplements, it is designed to assist your diet not replace it!
Yours in health,
Founder & CEO of The Clean Health Fitness Institute
Australia’s Leading Fitness Industry Educators