Written by Alex Simpson
When we think of protein sources, generally we think of things such as: chicken, eggs, steak, fish, and whey, all of which are staple ingredients in many bodybuilders’ diets. Whilst the aforementioned foods and supplements are indeed great sources of protein, as you can probably see, vegan and vegetarian bodybuilders are generally not very well catered for. Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays a role in so many physiological processes that it would take an age to list them all.
In terms of muscle growth and repair, protein is more important than ever, which is why bodybuilders and individuals are looking to boost their muscle mass, tend to follow such high protein diets. For meat-eaters, protein is everywhere, but for vegans and vegetarians, finding adequate protein sources can be tricky. Pea protein is quickly emerging as one of the more popular non-dairy protein supplements on the market, but what exactly is it, who will benefit from it, and why is it so beneficial? Well, let’s take a look.
What Is Pea Protein?
When you think of peas, you think of those happy little green guys and gals that used to live at the bottom of your garden, amongst the birds and the bees (that’s a reference to the Poddington Peas for our younger readers). In actual fact, it isn’t green peas that are used to make pea protein powders at all. Instead, it is yellow peas.
Yellow peas are surprisingly rich in protein, amino acids, and other nutrients, making them a great supplement for bodybuilding and overall health and well-being. Whilst it contains a number of beneficial amino acids, it is not considered a complete protein source, as it does not contain all nine essential amino acids required by the body. In particular, it is lacking in methionine and cystine, which respectively boost the metabolism and enhance collagen production. This protein is slow digesting, similar to casein protein, making it a great protein supplement for times when you will be going a long time without eating.
Who Does Pea Protein Benefit?
In actual fact, pea protein is suitable for virtually anybody, although primarily, it is vegans and vegetarians who will benefit the most, as they cannot consume meat and animal-derived supplements. People who suffer from food allergies to dairy, such as lactose intolerance, can really benefit from incorporating pea protein supplements into their diets. For individuals looking to increase their protein intakes, and who cannot consume more conventional protein powders, pea protein is ideal.
What Are The Benefits Of Pea Protein?
Plant-Based Protein Source
As mentioned, vegan and vegetarian bodybuilders often struggle to get enough protein in their diets each day, as most conventional protein sources are derived from living creatures. Pea protein powder is derived from yellow field peas, so it is vegan and vegetarian-friendly. This plant-based protein source is ideal for people who cannot consume animal-based protein sources for ethical reasons, as well as for physical reasons as well, in the case of lactose intolerant individuals for example.
Rich In Arginine
Arginine is a very beneficial amino acid when it comes to building muscle, which is why this supplement is so useful for bodybuilders and people interested in increasing their lean muscle mass. Arginine levels are often reduced when we’re ill, or when we’re dealing with stress and have elevated cortisol levels in our bodies. Supplementing with pea protein is a great way of increasing natural arginine contents.
Rich In Amino Acids
Pea protein, despite not quite being classed as a complete protein source, is still a very high-quality source of protein as it is enriched with so many essential and non-essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules and each one works in the body in a slightly different way. Pea protein provides seven of the nine essential amino acids required by the body, making it a very high-quality source of protein and ideal for bodybuilding purposes.
Some people are put off from pea protein because of the fact that it is a slow digesting protein when in actual fact, this is not a bad thing at all. Whilst there are times when we need fast absorbing proteins, especially after working out, there are also plenty of times when a slow digesting protein source is more advantageous. For example, taking pea protein right before bed, is ideal as it will provide a slow and sustained stream of proteins and amino acids to your body whilst you sleep, making it a great alternative to dairy-derived casein protein.