Protein powders are a convenient and easy option for those looking to bump up their intake of this important macronutrient, making it a vastly popular food and supplement. It helps in muscle gain, recovery, and can even help in weight control. On top of the conventional whey protein, there are also other alternatives to choose from. While most of us tend to associate protein with animal-derived products here are some facts about plant-based proteins that might surprise you.
High in BCAAs
The gold standard of plant-based proteins, pea protein isolate, contains almost 4g of BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) per 25g serving. This means that there is little need to supplement your usual protein supplement with additional BCAAs when you’re going with this little green giant.
High digestion and absorption rates
You are what you digest. While plant-based proteins are often perceived to be poorly absorbed by the body, this is not true at all. Pea protein, for instance, exhibits one of the higher absorption rates of over 89% on the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) chart.
Free from common allergens
Soy, dairy, eggs, shellfish, wheat and some nuts are just a few of the common allergens that people tend to have, which tends to make the consumption of certain supplements unfeasible. Pea protein on the other hand, is often deemed as one of the most hypo-allergenic proteins. This can be a great option to consider if non-plant proteins have proven to be problematic for you (you don’t need to be allergic for it to disagree with you).
Essentially complete protein
On top of BCAAs, there is also a need for a protein supplement to have a sufficient Essential Amino Acids (EEAs) profile for the best nutrient support. Plant-based protein are a practically complete protein nutrition-wise, which is great for us since we do not require complete proteins from our supplements as long as we consume a mixed diet consisting of whole foods. Nevertheless, ensuring that your protein supplement has all nine EEAs is considered optimal as it leaves nothing to chance.
Unlike its animal counterparts, plant-based proteins are more sustainable in terms of their carbon footprint. This is because dairy-farming, especially factory farmed or grain-fed cattle ranches, is less environmentally friendly by comparison.
Finally, regardless of the protein type, it is important to check for any other additives that may prove to be troublesome digestion-wise (e.g. soy lecithin). Scrutinising the ingredient list can help you determine which protein powder is most ideal for you, so don’t skip this important step!