Pea Protein may be an alternative to Whey for weight lifters to gain muscle

Byte-sized spoiler: one study shows pea protein increased muscle mass with weight training, and there was no difference between pea and whey groups.

If you haven’t seen it at the store already, you can now get 10g pea protein per serving from the the nut milk brand Silk. I purchased some at SafeWay, and it isn’t half bad, but you do need to watch the carbs. Here is the product link for visualization purposes.

Importantly, readers commonly ask, “Is pea protein a good alternative to whey”?

As always, let’s start with the science.

Here are results from one reasonably powered, registered (NCT02128516) clinical study (emphasis added):

In addition to an appropriate training, the supplementation with pea protein promoted a greater increase of muscle thickness as compared to Placebo and especially for people starting or returning to a muscular strengthening. Since no difference was obtained between the two protein groups, vegetable pea proteins could be used as an alternative to Whey-based dietary products.

Byte-sized translation: The proteins both outperformed no-protein when combined with weight training. The fact that both proteins, and not just whey, showed a difference, is important. (Statistically, there is no difference between the protein cohorts in this study.)

Here is the link to the study on JISSN.

This result is interesting because the amino profiles of whey and pea proteins are different.

As noted here, pea protein seeds are deficient in the Sulfur (S) containing amino acids methionine and cysteine.

Other authors have additional perspectives on the differences between pea and whey proteins. Arginine is a big  hitter in the body building world:

Go Pea by Nicole Moneer

“While its amino acid profile is similar to whey protein, pea is particularly high in arginine, lysine, and phenylalanine. Its well-balanced profile fulfills the essential amino acid requirements outlined by the World Health Organization for adults.”

Men’s Health on Whether or not you should buy it

“… pea protein does have one advantage not captured in the information above—and that’s the fact that it houses about three times more of the amino acid arginine than whey.”

I have not tried the following product, but you can sample pea protein on amazon with NOW Sports Pea Protein Powder

There are other reasons to consider vegetable-based proteins, notably for their environmental impact. Michael Pollen’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation is the topic of a recent Netflix series that is very informative and enjoyable.

If you are considering paleo and/or vegetarian, here are some recipes to get you started: A Guide For Weight Loss And Healthy Living

We also have some other resources on our favorites page. 

We will do some follow ups with pea protein smoothy recipes. The taste and texture is notoriously bad, which is why I recommend giving the Silk product a shot.

Tell us what you think!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s