Few plant-based proteins have what it takes to compete with animal-sourced alternatives. Pea protein makes for a rare exception. Highly digestible and packed with a range of amino acids, pea protein is a staple plant-based protein source. Sadly, decent pea protein powders are in short supply on the market. Our pea protein powder guide will help you find one.
What Pea Protein Powders Are
Simply put, pea protein is the product of extracting protein from ground dried yellow field peas. This helps rid the resulting pea protein powder of most fiber and starches that are abundant in yellow field peas. As protein content goes up, pea protein powders become suitable for supplementation.
One portion of high-quality pea protein isolate powder can deliver 15 to 20 grams of protein on average. And it can do so with a total of no more than 1 gram of carbs from fiber. Such an amazing ratio makes pea protein powders extremely well-suited for a vast range of diets.
Pea protein powders have a lot more to offer, though.
Key Benefits of Pea Protein
In a nutshell, pea protein boasts:
- Rich amino acid profile Pea protein includes all 9 essential amino acids that the body doesn’t produce on its own. It’s especially rich in isoleucine, leucine, and valine – branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). And it’s even richer than whey protein when it comes to arginine.
- Supreme digestibility As protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) suggests pea protein has the digestibility rate of 0.8 to 0.9. With a score of 1.0 being the highest. This means that pea protein is easy for the body to digest almost entirely.
- High content of iron Iron deficiency is a common shortcoming of many plant-based diets. This crucial element is vital for optimal oxygen transport throughout the body. Pea protein is rich in iron. And when combined with vitamin C rich foods, it makes for a good source of iron.
- No allergens Pea protein is hypoallergenic. Unlike gluten and proteins from soy, peanuts, and tree nuts, pea protein evokes no allergic reactions. Pea protein is only unsuitable for people with allergy to lentils, which is a less common form of food allergy.
As such, almost every diet can become more effective with pea protein. Not every pea protein powder, however, delivers results.
How to Pick a Decent Pea Protein Powder
Top-of-the-range pea protein powders:
- Mix pea and brown rice proteins One of the drawbacks of pea protein is its low methionine content. This essential amino acid, however, is abundant in brown rice, another amazing source of plant-based protein.
- Use only protein isolates Unlike concentrates, protein isolates contain the lowest amount of carbs from starches and fiber. This makes it easier to digest and more suitable for keto diets.
- Include digestive enzymes Pea protein comes with a decent digestibility rate. But digestive enzymes can help the body digest it even more effectively.
- Contain organic ingredients Pea protein that comes from non-organic sources may have a high level of contamination with pesticides and other toxic compounds.
These criteria will help you avoid the bulk of inferior pea protein powders on the market. Yet, there are more ways to spot a low-grade pea protein powder.
Things to Watch for in Pea Protein Powder Supplement
High-quality pea protein powders must be free of:
- Artificial ingredients Cheap pea protein powders are loaded with toxic artificial sweeteners and flavors, like acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and aspartame. Choose pea protein powders with natural sweeteners and flavors like cane sugar or stevia.
- GM components Beware of pea protein powders without a non-GMO label.
- Cross-contamination Some protein powders come from facilities that process milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. If a pea protein powder mentions this, chances are that it’s contaminated with these food allergens.
- Toxic substances Lousy brands contaminate pea protein powders with BPA, heavy metals, and other dangerous toxins.
Go with the pea protein powders that are free of these hazards and enjoy the many healthful benefits of pea protein without harming yourself.
Can Pea Protein Cause Bloating and Flatulence?
Complex starches and fiber in whole peas are the usual culprits behind bloating and flatulence that happen after eating peas. Pea protein is almost free of them and is unlikely to cause such symptoms.
Is Pea Protein Suitable for Fat Loss?
Pea protein has a moderate to fast digestion rate. This makes it a good protein source for most fat loss diets.