Pea Protein vs Whey Protein: Which One Is Better?

Soniya
Pea Protein Vs. Whey - Which one is better? (Image via Unsplash / Lyfefuel)
Pea Protein vs Whey - Which one is better? (Image via Unsplash / Lyfefuel)

Pea protein vs whey protein is one of the most popular debates when it comes to selecting the best protein powder.

Both have their benefits, but which one is better? We will take a look at some key differences between the two supplements to help you decide which one will suit your needs best.


What is Pea Protein?

Pea protein has become more popular than whey protein. (Image via Unsplash /David Gabrielyan)
Pea protein has become more popular than whey protein. (Image via Unsplash /David Gabrielyan)

Pea protein, made from yellow peas (pisum sativum), is a relatively new addition to the plant-based protein market. Initially, it was only used in the pet food industry and had negative connotations associated with its taste and consistency. However, as the market for clean eating has grown, pea protein has become more popular as an alternative to whey protein.

Pea protein powder is a great alternative to whey, as it's high in BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and has a neutral flavor that blends well with other ingredients like fruits or vegetables. If you're looking for an alternative to dairy products like cow's milk or yogurt that can help your body recover after intense workouts — or just make you feel better overall — try pea proteins.


What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein promotes bone health. (Image via Unsplash/Ben Mcleod)
Whey protein promotes bone health. (Image via Unsplash/Ben Mcleod)

Whey is a prominent byproduct of many cheesemaking processes. In fact, the word “whey” comes from old Anglo-Saxon words meaning “to turn or curdle” (source). That happens when whey is separated from casein (milk proteins) during the cheese production process.

In addition to its role as a food ingredient and dietary supplement, whey protein has also been used in alternative medicine. For example, studies have shown that whey may be effective at treating allergies by reducing inflammation in the body's mucus membranes.

Whey protein is also thought to support bone health, as it contains higher amounts of calcium than other common dairy products such as milk and yogurt.


Pea Protein vs Whey Protein

1) Pea protein has a high biological value

Pea protein has a high biological value. (Image via Unsplash/Lyfefuel)
Pea protein has a high biological value. (Image via Unsplash/Lyfefuel)

Pea protein has a high biological value, which means it's easily digested and absorbed by the body.

The reason for that is the way in which pea protein is processed: cold-milled pea flour rather than being heat-treated like most other proteins. This process helps preserve the natural amino acids found in peas, making them easier to digest than whey and other animal-based proteins.


2) Whey protein has a higher leucine content

Whey protein has a higher leucine content, which means it can stimulate muscle protein synthesis more effectively than pea protein.

Leucine is an essential amino acid, meaning the body cannot synthesize it on its own, and you must get it through your diet. Leucine is also the most important amino acid for stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS), as it helps regulate cell growth and proliferation.


3) Pea protein has no cholesterol or lactose unlike whey

If you're looking for a protein powder that's cholesterol-free and lactose-free, pea protein is the way to go.

It's also 100% vegan and a great source of plant-based protein. Whey protein, meanwhile, contains both cholesterol and lactose but is more easily digested by some people than soy or pea proteins.


4) Amino acid profile of pea and whey protein are both high quality

Both peas and whey are low in saturated fat. (Image via Unsplash/Sam Moghadam Khamseh)
Both peas and whey are low in saturated fat. (Image via Unsplash/Sam Moghadam Khamseh)

Both pea and whey have a complete amino acid profile, meaning they provide all the essential amino acids that the body needs. That's why both types of protein are considered high quality.

Pea protein isolates, though, contain higher amounts of the essential amino acids methionine and cysteine than whey protein isolate. Moreover, pea proteins contain lower amounts of lactose (milk sugar) and fat than whey protein.

Because it also has a low amount of sodium per serving, whey protein may be more suitable for those with hypertension or other medical issues involving an increase in blood pressure.

5) Pea protein powder is dairy-free, but not all whey powders are

Pea protein powder is dairy-free, but not all whey powders are. Some whey powders have casein and lactose in them, while others are not vegan.

In this section, we will take a look at how pea protein compares to other plant-based proteins (like soy), common allergens in foods and their symptoms, how much you need of each macronutrient per day, and more.


6) Both Pea Protein and Whey Protein are good sources of BCAAs

BCAAs are important for muscle growth and repair. They’re essential amino acids that can’t be synthesized in the body, so they must be consumed through food or supplements.

Many people use BCAAs to supplement their diet, as they help with exercise recovery and muscle building. Pea protein and whey protein both contain all three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine; however, pea protein contains less of them than whey protein per serving on average (0 gram vs 1 gram).


7) Both Pea Protein and Whey have low saturated fat content

When it comes to saturated fat content, both peas and whey are low in saturated fat.

Pea protein has less than whey protein, but both are low compared to beef and chicken. If you're looking for a low-saturated fat source of protein, pea protein may be your best bet.


Conclusion

Whey protein is a great source of protein, but pea protein may have some advantages over whey.

Pea protein can be used in combination with other sources like brown rice or hemp to create a complete plant-based meal that’s high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. It's also one of the few plant sources of leucine, which is an essential amino acid for muscle growth and repair.

Quick Links

Edited by Bhargav