Protein products are now a huge and fast-growing category within sports nutrition. Some athletes use them to build muscle and others use them in smaller quantities to rebuild muscle after exercise, in which case they are called recovery products. Manufacturers use different types of protein in their recipes, the most common being Whey protein from milk as its name suggests. Others opt for vegetable proteins such as pea or soya, which are easier to digest or out of respect for the animal cause. Let’s see what the benefits of pea protein for athletes ?
What is pea Protein ?
Pea protein is usually extracted from yellow peas in powder form after drying, not from green peas. Yellow peas are an exceptional source of vegetable protein, nutrients and amino acids. It is recommended for sports and especially for bodybuilding.
Let’s remove a doubt immediately. Whole peas are known to cause bloating but this is not the case with pea protein. There is therefore no risk of intestinal problems.
It has no noticeable taste, especially when mixed with fruit or flavourings. It is widely used by new brands of vegetable meats.
All these good reasons explain our choice to incorporate this protein in the recipe of our Mulebar Strawberry Almond 42g protein bar which contains 11g of pea protein, i.e. 25%.
Nutritional values of pea protein
This protein contains between 80 and 85% protein, which is very high. It contains carbohydrates and fibre, as well as vitamins E, D, K, A and minerals.
Pea protein has similar nutritional values to milk protein with the same protein content. However, it is not a complete vegetable protein source, as cystine and methionine are missing from the nine essential amino acids. This is not a problem, as many everyday foods contain them. If pea protein is one of your only sources of protein, then it would be interesting to diversify.
It does contain BCAAs, the famous Branched Chain Amino Acids, including 9% leucine, valine, isoleucine and 8% arginine. By way of comparison, whey protein isolate contains only 3%!
Pea protein is easily digested
The vegetable pea protein is slowly digested. It promotes the feeling of satiety so that you do not feel hungry, even after several hours. Many people think that slowly digested proteins are bad for the body… On the contrary!
This protein, like soy protein, is considered to be very digestible and has an excellent PDCAAS score of 0.8. This score defines the quality of a protein according to its amino acid content in relation to our physiological needs and our ability to digest it.
The benefits of pea protein
What are the health and sports performance benefits of pea protein?
Muscle mass gain
Pea protein helps to build muscle mass, especially in resistance training. Indeed, it allows the muscle fibres to gain thickness during training. It is at least as effective as whey in improving physical function and sports performance. It is an excellent vegetable alternative !
A better recovery
Thanks to its slow digestion, discussed above, pea protein favours muscle reconstruction after exercise, also known as the recovery phase. It diffuses its amino acids slowly and over time to the muscles (damaged by micro-injuries to the fibres) so that they can rebuild during rest. Ideally, pea protein should be consumed in the evening to take advantage of its nocturnal benefits. Immediately after exercise, it is preferable to opt for a more rapidly assimilated protein source.
A healthy alternative to bone-damaging milk proteins
Pea protein is very beneficial for our body. With its low fat content, it is suitable for those who wish to reduce the risk of cardiovascular accidents.
Contrary to what is commonly believed and manipulated by lobbyists, milk proteins are bad for the bones after the age of growth. They promote osteoporosis. Vegetable proteins, on the other hand, help to preserve bone density and strength.
Low glycemic index for slow energy release
It contains carbohydrates but with a relatively low glycemic index, making it an excellent source of slow-release carbohydrates perfect for endurance sports such as triathlons and ultra trails.
After ingestion, it causes a low blood sugar spike, a very good point for diabetic athletes.
Disadvantages of pea protein
There are no known contraindications or side effects to the consumption of this vegetable protein. Allergies are very rare. This protein is suitable for everyone, including people on vegan, vegetarian or vegan diets. It is also highly recommended for people who are lactose or soya intolerant.
Pea protein is a vegetable protein with very interesting nutritional values. Even if it is not a complete source of vegetable protein, it is still an ideal alternative to milk protein. In particular, it makes it possible to diversify the protein sources of vegetarian or vegan athletes. Its slow digestion makes it a serious asset for muscle reconstruction!