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One may be wondering, "why would I choose plant-based protein powder over whey or casein?" Whey being one of the best performance protein powders one can purchase, and pretty affordable too. So why pea or any other version of plant-based protein powder?
There are a few reasons, the most obvious being: if you were vegan - or certain vegetarian variations - where you have morally decided to avoid all animal-based products, this would rule out dairy-based powders such as whey and casein, as well as other forms like beef protein powders. I may also be dealing with a person that has IBS symptoms, and a general intolerance to whey for example.
I believe all nutrition should be plant centric, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or a meat eater, your basis of your nutrition should come a variety of vegetables, pulses, fruit and whole-grains.
One of the challenges when going vegan or similar, is sufficient quality protein intake. You can most certainly get your total protein intake from various combinations of sources over the day - we know that this is not meal specific. In other words, one does not necessarily need all essential amino acids present in one singular meal, but rather that over a day, you consume suitable amount of all the essential amino acids. I have set up many vegan based diets, and although challenging, it's entirely possible with the right combinations and structure, so one can set up your nutrition in such a way that it covers all your health-based needs, for general health and for general weight loss.
This changes however when dealing with athletes, whether that be endurance athletes, physique athletes or weightlifting athletes. This is where meal timing, frequency, and hitting certain protein targets per meal becomes far more important to optimising adaptation to your training stimulus, recovery and performance going forward.
We know that consuming 24g protein (which consists of 15g essential amino acids, which then consists of between 2.7-3.2g of the essential amino acid leucine) 4 times per day is what we currently know as optimal. Our challenge comes in, that when monitoring calories, a lot of the plant-based or non-animal-based sources come with a lot of additional calories from fats and carbohydrates you don't necessarily want or need at that time, or trying to control overall energy consumption.
Enter protein powders, there are many variations on the market, from rice to soy-based, to pea or a combination thereof. For purposes of this article I will be concentrating on the NOW Sports Pea protein. It contains no soy nor dairy.
At 160 kCal per serving, it’s a tad higher than a traditional whey protein shake (120-140 Calories per serving depending on brand) but not by any amount that would concern me.
It also contains just over 2g of L-leucine, which falls just short of where I want it to be. This doesn’t concern me at all because most meals would be a combination meal, which would raise this up quite easily. Whether that be a shake and a serving of oats, hypothetically - one always needs to look at the totality of a meal than just one source in particular.
Taste is great considering most plant based powders have suffered in this aspect in the past. The texture is quite thick and filling vs whey, this may work to your advantage when in a caloric deficit and trying to offset hunger. We usually try not “drink” our calories and prefer to rather eat solid foods to offset the associated hunger that comes with any energy restriction nutrition plan.
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, suffer from intolerance to whey, or simply looking for further the variety to your overall protein intake, NOW Foods Pea protein is a great option to consider. Whether simply to help you bump your protein to optimal levels, without adding a lot of additional calories, or whether you are a demanding athlete looking to use every advantage you can via nutritional support to your training.
Head coach CSB Bodyfusion
NOW Sports Pea Protein is a non-GMO vegetable protein isolate that has 24 grams of easily-digested protein. Each 1 scoop serving typically has over 4,200 mg of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and over 2,000 mg of arginine. NOW Sports Pea Protein has a smooth texture and mixes easily into your favourite beverages.