Why Pea Protein Powder Is The Next Big Thing
With many people shifting towards a more plant-based diet, vegan proteins like pea protein powder are gaining more attention in the media.
Until relatively recently, it’s been difficult for vegans, and anyone with a dairy or soy allergy, to find effective alternatives for protein supplementation. Fortunately, yellow split peas offer a complete protein and a real option for those serious about their protein intake.
You might be most familiar with yellow split peas as an ingredient in dahl or split pea soup. You may not know that this same ingredient is the source of alkaline pea protein isolate, like that found in Athletic Greens.
Known botanically as Pisum sativum, this legume is an ancient food, found in archaeological sites in Egypt as far back as 4800 BC.
The pea itself is actually a seed, which is tucked safely inside the pod of a green, leafy, vine-like plant.
How Does Pea Protein Powder Stack Up?
Alkaline pea protein isolate has a number of obvious benefits, quite simply because of its status as a plant-based protein alternative:
✔ Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
✔ A complete protein
✔ Gluten, lactose and soy free
✔ Low carb
✔ Hypoallergenic and easily digestible
So what exactly does it mean when I say it’s a complete protein?
Pea protein powder contains all 9 essential amino acids and is especially high in arginine, lysine, and phenylalanine.
On the flipside, it’s considered fairly low in the sulfurous amino acids (cysteine and methionine). For this reason, it’s often combined with other complementary sources of vegetarian protein such as rice or hemp seeds to ‘fill out’ the amino acid profile.
These days, it’s not hard to find different combinations of vegan proteins mixed with pea protein powder. All it takes is a little research.
The Science Behind Pea Protein Powder Benefits
Pea protein powder isn’t just an option for vegans. Obviously, we wouldn’t have included it in Athletic Greens if it didn’t come with a list of benefits. So far, science has identified the following:
May assist in weight loss by…
Lowering hunger hormones such as ghrelin and increasing satiety. The stomach secretes ghrelin when empty to signal to the brain that it’s time to eat. Pea protein isolate stays in the stomach for longer, reduces feelings of hunger and even matches dairy-based protein for satiety.
Preserving and building lean muscle mass and regulating metabolism in combination with a low-carbohydrate diet.
May lower blood pressure and protect the heart
Animal studies show that pea protein isolate may support the kidneys and promote reductions in blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. High levels of arginine in pea protein isolate also promote the opening (vasodilation) of blood vessels.
Helps build, repair and preserve muscle tissue
Pea protein isolate, in combination with strength training, increased muscle thickness (more than placebo and at the same rate as whey protein isolate). It actually contains up to three times more arginine than whey protein, an essential amino acid involved in building new muscle tissue.
May help regulate blood sugar
In healthy young men, pea protein powder supplementation led to lower blood sugar levels after a meal of pizza!
Supports healthy immune function
Certain amino acids, such as arginine (high in pea protein powder), enhance cellular immunity; others help create and activate immune cells.
One myth I want to address here, is that pea protein powder has the magical ability to alkalize and detox your body. The fact remains that it is still protein. This means it contains amino acids and nitrate bonds, so this in turn means that yes, it is still acidic once broken down.
How To Take Pea Protein Powder For Maximum Results
One 30 gram serving of pea protein powder contains up to 25 grams of protein. If you’re a protein aficionado, you’ll know that’s in the realm of a serving of whey protein isolate.
Because you can use pea protein powder, or a mix of plant-based proteins, as a substitute for whey protein and other protein supplements, you can try working it into your routine using the same principles.
If you usually take your protein supplement post-workout, stick to that. If you prefer to mix protein into your morning smoothie, try your favourite recipe with pea protein powder instead.
There are currently no known contraindications for pea protein isolate, besides overt allergy to the pea plant itself.
You can reap even more benefits by combining pea protein powder with other key supplements. When it comes to muscle growth, zinc is the perfect complement, as it can help speed up the formation of new tissue for muscle growth and repair.
It’s also a good idea to maintain a healthy intake of calcium. A high protein diet can lead to a decrease in calcium stores as a result of the body leaching sodium and calcium from the bones in an effort to maintain a healthy pH level. As I mentioned above, protein is acidic.
You can also get an alkalizing effect from greens such as spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass, alfalfa and chlorella.
The good news is, all these greens - plus calcium and pea protein powder - can be found in Athletic Greens, making for the ideal complementary combination.
Pea Protein Powder In A Nutshell
Pea protein powder is a valuable dairy-free and allergy-friendly source of protein - and may even offer significant health benefits. It appears to match whey protein in effectiveness for muscle building, and the high levels of arginine are helpful for active people requiring extra immune, cardiovascular, blood sugar or weight loss support.
Potential drawbacks include lower levels of sulfurous amino acids, however, this can be addressed by pairing pea protein powder with complementary sources of vegetable protein.
We included pea protein powder in Athletic Greens because it is a high quality source of easily digestible protein that most people will have no issues digesting.
And of course, we also had in mind vegetarians and vegans who typically consume less protein than their meat-eating counterparts.
The way I see it, we can all benefit from a healthy amount of protein in our diets, and protein supplementation via plant-based sources can help us achieve that.