What is Pea Protein?

Author: Nicole Adler   Date Posted: 15 August 2016 

Many of us are used to using protein supplements. These supplements are usually dairy in nature, like whey, or vegetable in nature, like soy. One protein supplement that many people are not used to using is pea protein.

From where does pea protein come?

Pea protein comes from, you guessed it, the pea; however, it is a specific type of pea from which it is extracted. The specific type of pea that is used in the extraction process is the yellow split pea, or Pisum sativum.

Using water and a mechanical process, the carbohydrates, such as starch and fiber, are removed from the peas. After this is accomplished, the dried peas are made into a protein rich, carbohydrate depleted powder.

The pea, contrary to popular belief, is not a vegetable, but is rather a legume. Legumes are rich in protein.

What is the composition of pea protein?

Pea protein, as already stated, comes in a protein rich, carbohydrate depleted powder. On a biochemical and molecular level, pea protein contains the natural protein legumin.

Just to be clear, pea protein is a powder, but it is not the same as the pea powder that you can already buy in bulk. As already mentioned, pea powder has had the carbohydrates, such as starch and fiber, removed from it.

How does pea protein compare to other protein supplements?

The protein in pea powder, legumin, is similar in structure to the protein that is found in milk whey protein, casein. This similar protein structure allows for pea protein to be easily substituted for whey protein in many instances.

In what kind of recipes can I use pea protein?

As already stated, pea protein has a similar structure to those proteins in whey protein; therefore, pea protein can easily be used in many recipes where whey protein is utilised. Likewise, considering that peas are legumes, much like the soybean, pea protein may also be used in many recipes where soy protein is normally utilised.

What is the taste of pea protein?

Whey and soy protein have long been known for not being palatable. If this is one reason you are looking for an alternative to your current protein supplement, you are not alone. Pea protein may be your saving grace if this is the case. Pea protein has a neutral taste and will not affect the taste of your recipes in which you use it. Some pea proteins will be flavored or sweetened, but this depends on the brand that you choose.

Why use pea protein?

Pea protein is used for a variety of reasons. The most common of these, as just stated, is the taste. Many people want their food to taste like food, not the supplement that was just added. In addition to this, many people have dietary restrictions that do not allow for the consumption of other protein supplements.

The first of these is being a vegetarian or vegan. If you are in this category, you have one choice other than soy protein, this is pea protein. There are some disadvantages to soy protein that have been elucidated recently, that may make a person lean toward pea protein use. Some opponents of soy believe that genetic modifications are being made to soybeans today and this is not healthy for human consumption. Others, and the more prominent reason for use of pea protein over soy protein, believe that soy does not boost testosterone production. This, obviously, is not beneficial to muscle building.

Another common reason for the use of pea protein due to dietary restrictions is a milk allergy. If one is allergic to milk, they will most likely be allergic to whey protein. Most often, it is the casein in the milk to which people are allergic. If one cannot consume whey protein due to allergies, they were once left with only one option for a supplement. That was soy. As just discussed, soy does not have ideal properties overall as a supplement. Now, one with a milk allergy can substitute pea protein for whey protein if needed. As already discussed, the legumin in pea protein is very similar in structure to casein that is in whey protein. The difference is that it doesn’t cause the allergic reactions in most people that the casein in whey protein does. This is due to the fact that legumin is just slightly different, and just different enough, in structure to not cause the allergic reactions.

Another hidden benefit to pea protein is its lack of gaseousness. When most people consume a legume, it causes them to be very gaseous. This is not the case with pea protein. In the production of pea protein powder, the fiber is removed from the legume before being completely turned into the final powder state.

What are the disadvantages of pea protein?

So far, only the advantages of pea protein have really been discussed. Not everything can be perfect. This is the case for pea protein, as well. Pea protein is high in lysine, much like other legume based protein supplements; however, like other legume based protein supplements, it is low in methionine and cystine. Therefore, pea protein is a dietary supplement. It is not to be used as one’s primary protein source.

What is the bottom line on pea protein?

In summation, pea protein is an excellent supplement to one’s diet. One must realise, however, that it is an incomplete protein supplement and must be used in addition to other protein sources. With this being considered, the benefits of pea protein far outweigh the negatives and should be a suggested source of protein supplementation for all parties that are currently utilising protein supplementation.  

Data based on vanilla flavour ND Naturals WPC Rice Protein Isolate Pea Protein Isolate Soy Protein Isolate ND Natural WPI
Protein per serve (g) 23 23.6 24.1 25.4 26.2
Take For
Type of protein/s Whey Vegetable Vegetable Vegetable Whey
Carbs per serve (g) 4.2 4.8 2.5 1.8 2.2
Fat total per serve (g) 1.3 0.6 2.0 0.4 0.6
Sugars per serve (g) 3.4 0.6 0.6 1.0 1.6
Serving Size (g) Stevia Stevia Stevia Stevia Stevia
Serves per kilo Choc, Vanilla Choc, Vanilla, Natural Choc, Vanilla, Natural Choc, Vanilla, Natural Choc, Vanilla
Additional Premium Ingredients 30 30 30 30 30
Notes 33 33 33 33 33
Flavours All natural flavours and sweetener Vegetarian, all natural flavours and sweetener Vegetarian, all natural flavours and sweetener Vegetarian, all natural flavours and sweetener All natural flavours and sweetener

Leave a comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up