Can Pea Protein Outmuscle Whey?

Whey protein has been considered “king of the jungle” when it comes to protein supplement and building lean muscle, however new research some vegetarian proteins might be making up ground. If you’re an athlete and training intensely or an avid exerciser trying to lose weight and improve your health, achieving your daily protein intake with a morning smoothie, mid-afternoon snack or post-training can go a long way to realizing your goals.

But, if you currently use a whey protein supplement and struggle with chronic gas, bloating or abdominal discomfort after consuming shakes, then whey protein might not be for you. Sometimes symptoms are subtler; low energy, fatigue, constant congestion or frequent colds and flu are all signs you may not be reacting well to whey protein. This can be particularly problematic if you’re adding multiple whey shakes per day to your diet, common in athletes and bodybuilders, and the problems persist.

Most people just decide to “live with it” because they know whey protein is superior to vegetarian proteins when it comes to strength, power and hypertrophy. A new study suggests this might no longer be the case.

Over 160 men between the ages of 18-35 went through 12 weeks of upper-body training, consuming either 25g of pea protein, whey protein concentrate, or carbohydrate only drink (e.g. maltodextrin) twice daily. Their biceps muscles were tested pre, during and post-training over the course of the 12-week program to assess hypertrophy gains. The results were very surprising. It showed that pea protein was able to produce equivalent muscle gains compared to whey.1 Pea protein is contains 85% of proteins and is especially rich the branched-chain amino acid leucine that stimulates the genetic pathways that promote muscle protein synthesis.

If you struggle to digest whey protein effectively but stick to it thinking it’s markedly superior to vegetarian sources, it’s time to perhaps reconsider. Chronic gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, dark circles under your eyes, consistent nasal congestion, dry sinuses or inconsistent stool are all signs that whey protein may be causing you digestive disturbances. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it’s likely time for a change.

So, can pea protein outmuscle whey? Not quite, but this research shows it can perform "on par" with whey protein, which is quite a big win for typically inferior vegetarian proteins. Try switching over to pea protein formula for 4-8 week and see for yourself how it can upgrade your health and performance.

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS

 

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References

1)    Babault, N et al. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2015, 12:3