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August 02, 2022
There has been a massive shift in society in the last 10 years. As Bob Dylan says 'Times are a changing." That change is the rise in popularity of following a vegan lifestyle. This change has brought a revolution and has affected the selection of foods, clothing, and even protein powders available for consumption.
The sports supplement industry has met this demand, and over the past few years, a slew of plant-based protein options have flooded the sports nutrition market. Out of all the choices, pea protein has risen to the top of vegan choices. This article will help you narrow down the perfect pea protein powder to fuel your training.
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We're going to jump right into it. After looking at all the current data, these are the 9 best pea protein powders currently available you could add to your nutrition plan.
This list has a high-quality pea protein choice for everybody.
We'll now break down these protein powders in more detail and tell you all you need to know about each protein powder. This includes:
The brand "Naked" boasts that its protein supplements use a minimum amount of ingredients, hence the term "Naked." In addition, they strive to only use raw, natural ingredients in their products which is rare in a world known for artificial flavors and sweeteners.
While their adverting says "one ingredient," Naked Pea Protein Powder actually utilizes three different ingredients:
This is about as pure as a pea protein powder can get apart from an unflavored pea protein powder. If you're really wanting to make changes in your health and get rid of artificial ingredients, Naked pea protein is the way to go.
With 27g of high-quality protein per serving and a heavy dose of BCAAs, this is one of the better protein mixes for muscle growth and those following a very-high protein diet.
Vega Sport Premium Protein Powder is one of the more costly powders on this list, but it brings a lot.
Vega uses a blend of 3 plant-based protein powders to create its protein powder specifically formulated for athletes. The plant proteins used are:
We love this fact as it provides all 9 essential amino acids in one serving. You can rest assured that Vega protein easily supports protein synthesis. If you are concerned with maximum muscle growth, Vega Sport Premium Pea Protein Powder is for you.
In addition to providing a complete amino acid profile, Vega also provides 2 billion CFU probiotics to support recovery and gut health. This makes Vega Sport Premium Protein more than just your average protein mix.
If you have the cash, this is the best pea protein mix for the serious vegan weight lifter.
While some protein powders claim to consist of one ingredient (but then also contain a flavoring), Anthony's premium pea protein really is made of one ingredient, yellow peas. This premium yellow pea protein isolate is the simplest protein powder on this list.
It's basically like grounding up a bunch of yellow peas and making a shake with it. There are no sweeteners or flavors, so it does provide a very earthy taste. But then again, that's why we love it.
It should be mentioned that while you definitely can make protein shakes with this, it's used for baking purposes more so than other protein powders. Regardless, this pea protein isolate is as simple as it can get.
Nutrasumma offers their fermented pea protein in chocolate, vanilla and unflavored.
This pea protein powder is a bit different from the rest of our top picks as they chose to use a fermented pea protein isolate. Using the fermented pea protein isolate means it's easier to digest and is more bioavailable to your body.
Not only is this pea protein ideal for fueling your body after a tough workout, it also tastes great. You won't find any artificial flavoring or sweeteners as they use organic cane sugar and organic cocoa in their chocolate option.
Another great choice for a vegan weight lifter.
Sunwarrior brings an absolutely packed, high-quality pea protein blend full of nutrition. With a base of raw organic yellow peas, it provides generous portions of muscle-building protein in every serving.
In addition, to it’s raw pea protein, this warrior blend also offers:
With this combination of natural ingredients, Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend may be the only performance drink you need. It can fit into just about anybody’s lifestyle and provide the nutrition they need.
Garden of Life Raw Organic Pea Protein Powder brings a unique, organic blend of plant-based protein sources. While the primary ingredient is organic yellow peas, another 13 different legumes, grains, and seeds are used to offer the widest variety of plant-based sources on this list.
Life's raw organic protein powder might be the most easily digestible protein powder as well. In addition to protein, one serving packs 3 billion CFU live probiotics and 13 non-GMO digestive enzymes. These can actually help improve the quality of the protein powder as enzymes help break down the proteins while the probiotics help with absorption.
Holding multiple 3rd party testing certs, including Informed Choice, you can trust with 100% positivity you are getting what you think you are with Garden Of Life Raw Organic Protein.
Now Sports Nutrition is the sister brand of NOW Foods and puts an emphasis on sports nutrition. And just like their sister brand, Now Sports prides itself in offering premium sports supplements for an affordable price.
This makes their pea protein powder one of the cheapest options by far. At just 49 cents a serving (24g of protein), you're not going to find a better option at that price.
But don't fret; a low price doesn't equate to cheap ingredients. NOW Sports offers a USDA Organic Pea Protein with perhaps the most testing certifications on this list. In other words, you can trust it.
Now Sports Nutrition Pea Protein Powder is definitely the choice for those who just want something that works great without breaking the bank.
Bulk supplements are known for delivering high-quality protein powder and other supplements at an affordable price. Their premium pea protein isolate delivers this as one serving provides 21 grams of yellow pea protein isolate for about 51 cents; that's cheap!
This is a simple, pure pea protein that's vegan-friendly and flavor free to reduce cost and the need for artificial sweeteners. Surprisingly, it's also one of the leanest pea protein powders making it perfect for those cutting weight.
This combination of low-cost and low-calories is extremely rare! If you're looking for a premium pea protein isolate to fuel your weight loss journey without causing a massive dent in your bank account, this is it.
Its simplicity and high quality is the reason we often turn to Bulk Supplements.
Orgain organic protein is the top-rated, #1 selling pea protein blend on Amazon on the day of writing this list. At the very least, that should tell you it has the trust and backing of a huge community which means a lot on its own.
Orgain's protein blend is made with organic yellow pea protein as its base and then uses a mix of brown rice and raw chia seeds to fill in any gaps. As a result, one scoop delivers 21g of high-quality protein with all 9 essential acids.
To aid in digestion and absorption, 4g of prebiotic fiber is added to each scoop. This makes Orgain Organic Protein a great choice for those who need a little help in staying regular.
Protein is one of your three macronutrients, the other two being fat and carbs. Macronutrients get their name because your body needs to eat large quantities of them daily in order to function normally and support a healthy lifestyle. In comparison, vitamins and minerals are "micronutrients," which are still very important, yet your body only requires a small amount.
Protein plays a role in multiple physiological processes, but its function in muscle repair and recovery is the main gig. This is also why you always hear athletes and lifters talk about it, as it contains the literal building blocks of muscle.
These building blocks are known as "amino acids." In fact, the term "protein" is just nomenclature to identify a strand of 50+ amino acids making amino acids the true workhorse.
There are 20 proteinogenic amino acids that are required to synthesize protein. Of these 20, 9 are labeled as essential amino acids as you must consume them through your diet. They are:
Different sources of protein will contain different amounts and ratios of these amino acids. This is how their quality is determined as optimal protein synthesis requires sufficient amounts of each amino acid to be present to occur.
Think about amino acids like the Infinity stones from the Marvel comics. While each one has its own role by itself, you must have all of them to destroy half of mankind. Or for protein muscle synthesis to occur.
When a protein source has all the essential amino acids, it's said to have a complete amino acid profile. On the contrary, if it's missing or lacking essential amino acids, it has an incomplete amino acid profile.
This is why Vegans will often use "complementary" proteins. Complementary proteins are 2 plant-based proteins the are lacking different amino acids. When put together, they fill these gaps.
Pea protein powder is a high-quality source of protein that comes from the isolated pea protein from yellow peas. In the vegan lifestyle, it's considered one of the best vegan protein options.
When looking at pea protein supplements, you'll most likely come across two different forms.
Both options can be ideal, depending on your situation. If you are trying to lose weight and can afford the higher price, pea protein isolate is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you're not too concerned with the extra calories (usually anywhere from 30-50) or just don't think it's worth it, a pea protein concentrate is just as effective. For most people, it really doesn't matter what choice you pick.
You may also see a vegan protein labeled as:
This means that the powder includes more than just one protein source. For optimal muscle growth, we recommend opting for a blend of brown rice and pea protein powders, as this mixture has been found to rival whey protein.
Pea protein brings a list of useful and essential benefits with it that can make anyone give it a shot. Here are some great reasons why you may want to include pea protein in your diet.
Like all animal protein powders, pea protein powders are 100% lactose-free. No matter how sensitive you are to lactose, pea protein isn't going to cause any issues for you.
You can down all the pea protein shakes you want with no more close calls when you're deadlifting.
While whey protein is regarded as the number 1 protein, its major drawback is it can cause digestive issues in some users. Whether this comes from leftover lactose, some people just have issues with digesting whey protein.
On the contrary, pea protein is actually one of the higher digestible plant proteins, and most people tend to handle it better.1 If you've had problems digesting whey or other protein sources, a high-quality pea protein supplement may be a good choice for you.
Iron is a mineral that helps form hemoglobin which is a protein that helps deliver oxygen in the blood. With low levels of iron, your body will transport sub-optimal amounts of oxygen, resulting in fatigue.
Pea protein is extremely high in iron. This is extremely important for athletes, especially women, as this population is more prone to lower amounts.
For athletes and weightlifters, the suggested protein intake for optimal muscle growth is 1.6g- 2.2g per kilogram of body weight.
Getting inadequate protein intake from natural foods is one of the most challenging issues for anyone, including meat eaters. However, for those following a plant-based diet, it can be near impossible to eat enough protein daily.
In fact, it can be just about damn-near impossible to hit those numbers by only eating plants. This makes it crucial for anyone following a strict vegan lifestyle to include a high-quality protein powder in their diet.
In some situations, pea protein has been found to be just as effective in promoting muscle growth.2 Now, this does NOT mean pea protein is better than whey or even just as good.
We will discuss this in greater detail below, but pea protein is an incomplete protein. Therefore, you must consume other sources in addition to optimizing muscle growth.
Therefore, if you are a recreational lifter and are eating other sources of protein, a high-quality pea protein could substitute for your post-workout protein shake.
There are some definite drawbacks to using a pea protein powder. While some of these are blown out of proportion, which we'll address at the end, here are some of the main concerns.
Like the majority of other plant-based proteins, pea protein is an incomplete protein. Remember above that an incomplete protein is one that is either missing or lacking an amino acid.
In the case of pea protein, it lacks the amino acid methionine.3 To be clear, pea protein powders do contain methionine, but it's not enough to support muscle protein synthesis to occur.
To illustrate this, let's say that you only get your protein from pea protein. Even if you ate 200g a day, your muscle growth would be minimal as your body doesn't have methionine to complete the process.
Now, assuming you're eating protein from other sources, this shouldn't be a huge issue as those proteins can fill the missing methionine. However, those who only consume plant-based protein must be more conscious of this.
Compared to animal protein powder, vegan protein powder delivers a much more "earthy" taste. On top of that, generally speaking, vegan protein powders tend to be a bit more health conscious and limit their use of artificial sweeteners IF they use any at all.
As a result, your pea protein supplement is not going to deliver a sweet, creamy protein shake in the same manner as whey protein powder. Depending on how picky your taste buds are, this may or may not be a problem. Unless you really can't handle new flavors, it shouldn't be an issue, especially after you have drunk it for a time.
With is shown that plant-based proteins have a lower quality than animal protein, some people not already following a vegan lifestyle maybe be concerned with taking pea protein powder.
This is why the first topic that comes to mind when speaking of any plant-based protein is if it's a complete protein or not. As we just discussed above, pea protein is indeed an incomplete protein.
However, when it comes to protein powders, the debate of "Incomplete protein Vs. Complete Protein" gets a little muddled.
Let us clarify. The word "protein" is thrown around a lot, but remember, protein refers to a chain of amino acids. The reason plant-based proteins are of lower quality is due to two things:
However, this refers to a protein found in natural sources in the wild. With vegan protein powders, the plant proteins have already been processed and isolated from the plants. This mitigates the need for your body to digest the food.
Concerning plants being incomplete proteins, many vegan protein powders contain blends that use 2 or more sources. This is done to cover the gaps of missing amino acids.
This method is known as "complementary proteins" in that that two protein sources can be used to build a complete amino acid profile.
Previously it was believed that in order for muscle protein synthesis to occur, you needed to eat these complementary proteins at the same time. We now know that's incorrect.
While you should try to consume them close together, it seems that as long as you eat them both in 24 hours, you're good to go.
Further, some brands will even add branched-chain amino acids or other important amino acids to improve the quality. This is very important.
Consider that one of the reasons whey protein powder is the preferred choice of protein powder is due to its high level of the branched-chain amino acid leucine. If a protein powder were to enhance the amount of leucine, its quality greatly increases.
The point being is that once you have isolated the protein, your body doesn't know if the leucine came from a cow or pea. We ARE NOT saying that whey protein is the same as pea protein. We are saying that once the protein has been processed from its source, the issues that affect its quality are lessened.
For transparency, SET FOR SET does not encourage a vegan lifestyle as we don't encourage any lifestyle. While we fully believe that including animal protein is the ideal choice, we just want to keep it clear and honest.
If you're looking for a pea protein supplement or vegan protein powder, we'd highly suggest you try one of the 9 pea protein powders on this list. When used as part of a whole diet, it can be extremely effective at supporting a healthy lifestyle.
This means animal eaters too! You don't need to be vegan to enjoy a protein-packed pea protein shake once in a while!
More Best Protein Roundups:
1. Hoffman JR, Falvo MJ. Protein - Which is Best? Journal of sports science & medicine. 2004;3(3):118-130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/
2. Babault N, Païzis C, Deley G, 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(1):3. doi:10.1186/s12970-014-0064-5
3. Tömösközi S, Lásztity R, Haraszi R, Baticz O. Isolation and study of the functional properties of pea proteins. Die Nahrung. 2001;45(6):399-401. doi:10.1002/1521-3803(20011001)45:63.0.CO;2-0
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