Pea Protein for Sports & Fitness

Why Use

Pea Protein

Why Do Athletes Use It?*

While whey protein is considered by some athletes to be the best protein supplement for building muscle, pea protein, particularly when combined with rice protein, has an amino acid profile that is similar to whey and other animal proteins. Peas, like whey, have high amounts of branched-chain amino acids, the type of amino acids used to make and repair muscle fibers.

What Do the Advocates Say?*

Some fitness advocates promote pea protein to boost the protein intake of vegetarians and vegans. The amino acids in pea protein are said to be nearly as well-used as those from animal proteins and better used than protein from other plant sources like soy, but researchers have not yet determined whether this is true. Peas are unlikely allergens compared to dairy and soy, don’t aggravate lactose intolerance, and, unlike soy, are usually not genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
*Athletes and fitness advocates may claim benefits for this supplement based on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific articles.

Dosage & Side Effects

Pea Protein

How Much Is Usually Taken by Athletes?

A typical serving of pea protein powder is 30 grams, with 25 grams of protein. Athletes usually use one serving per day but may take as many as three servings per day, depending on their training level and the protein content of the rest of their diet.

Side Effects

People with peanut, soybean, or other legume allergies should be careful when adding pea protein to the diet. Even though peas are not a major cause of allergies, pea allergies are more common in people who have other legume allergies.1

Carbohydrate molecules called oligosaccharides may be present in varying amounts in pea protein extracts. These molecules can cause intestinal discomfort and gas in some people. A processing technique called ultrafiltration reduces the amount of oligosaccharides remaining in pea protein and reduces this side effect.2

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

Pea protein extracts have varying amounts of phytic acid, a plant chemical found especially in legumes that interferes with the absorption of minerals including iron. One study found that babies given a pea-based formula absorbed iron better when the formula was fortified with vitamin C.3Processing techniques like dialysis, ultrafiltration, hydrolysis, and enzymatic treatment can reduce the amount of phytic acid remaining in protein extracts from legumes.4, 5, 6

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

More Resources

Pea Protein

Where to Find It

Cooked split peas contain about 8% protein, or 7 to 8 grams per ½ cup. Pea protein extracts are used in some protein powders, meal replacement powders, and high-protein bars. As with other protein supplements, there are three types of pea protein extracts: concentrates (about 60-70% protein), isolates (about 70-95% protein), and hydrolysates (about 90-95% protein).


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