People love their protein. And for good reason; high protein diets have been linked with all sorts of benefits – including improved body composition.
And thanks to this protein craze that has developed over recent years, we're beginning to see all sorts of protein supplements on the market boasting various processes and ingredients.
Most interestingly, these powders have been coming from a host of new (and often surprising) sources. Of particular interest to many, has been the rise of pea protein powder.
First of all: Why? Understanding the advantages that pea protein has over other options can help you get the most from this novel protein source.
Of course, peas are good for you. That's been drilled into your head since you were a child. Specifically, most pea protein powders are made from yellow split peas. But few people realize that peas are actually a pretty good source of quality protein.
And we should make it clear that when we talk about protein, it's important to look at both the quality and the quantity of the famed macronutrient.
Protein, which makes up your muscles and countless other tissues in your body, is actually built out of various amino acids. By working chemical magic, your body has the ability to create most of the amino acids that it needs when it needs them.
But there are several others – dubbed “essential amino acids” - that your body cannot make. These have to be found in your diet. A quality protein, then, is one that contains these essential amino acids – as well as the non-essential varieties.
Pea protein not only offers all of these evaluable amino acids, but it contains another class that has gained a lot of attention over the past few years: branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).
These amino acids - leucine, isoleucine, and valine – are especially beneficial for fueling and feeding your growing muscles.
Allergies and Other Considerations
Food sensitivities – such as dairy allergies or lactose intolerance – can be a limiting factor for people looking to pick up a protein powder since most of them are derived from milk. Vegetarians and vegans could encounter the same problem.
Thankfully, pea protein offers the solution. Since it is sourced from peas – and nothing else – this protein powder option is a perfect choice for those looking to avoid diary or animal proteins.
Even if you aren't concerned about these factors, you might be interested in pea protein simply because it is a clean, whole food. Granted, a high quality whey or casein protein should be a clean, whole food, as well.
Pea protein powder can be used just like any other protein – whether you chose to simply mix it with water, throw it in a smoothie or use it in a more complex cooking recipe.
Like many vegetarian protein sources, though, pea protein is low in certain amino acids and may need to be complemented by other dietary proteins. Of course, this doesn't mean that pea protein is lacking or deficient in these substances, you may just need more than peas are capable of offering.
But this is a common challenge in vegetarian diets.