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Pea Protein Powder

Written by Ben Carlisle

Last updated on: Sep 17, 2022

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Pea protein powder is a fantastic vegan supplement. It is high in protein, rich in iron, has a good amino acid profile and a very high digestion rate. Pea protein also has properties which have been shown to assist with heart health. Studies have found this supplement is comparable to whey when it comes to strength, performance and body composition.

What Is Pea Protein Powder?

This protein powder is derived from yellow pea protein. The protein is extracted from the peas using the following process. First, there is a dry phase. The outer shell of the pea is mechanically removed. This outer shell consists of predominantly insoluble fibres. Once the shell is removed the pea is milled down into a flour. This flour contains proteins, starches and soluble fibres. As it is water soluble, the proteins are separated from the fibre and starch by wet filtration and centrifugation.

One of two methods can be used to obtain yellow pea protein isolate, however only one of these is suitable for human nutrition. This method involves precipitating the protein to its isoelectric point. This dry spray is then solubilised. The result is a beige white protein powder known as pea isolate. The normal protein content of this powder is approximately 75%.

This protein powder is normally used by individuals who want to increase their protein intake. It is normally taken as a shake or a smoothie, but can be used in several ways. It is suitable for most diets as it is plant based and hypoallergenic. And can support a range of goals including, athletic performance, the accumulation of muscle mass, strength development and weight loss.

Types Of Pea Protein Powder

Pea Isolate

This type of protein powder comes from protein isolated from yellow split peas. Both the starch and fibre is removed. The result is a low number of lectins, no sugar and no saturates. The protein content of this type of supplement is typically around 75%.

Pea Hydrolysate

This is pea protein is pre-digested by hydrolysis. Hydrolysis results in the protein being broken down into its component amino acids and peptides. This makes it easier to digest. This is especially attractive to individuals with digestive issues.

Pea Blends

This is a blend of pea with another plant based protein source such as soy. These blends can be found in different types of protein powders ranging from diet proteins through to mass gainers. One reason pea is used in a blend is to make up for its low volume of the essential amino acid methionine. Although this can be obtained through food sources, some people prefer to have it included in their supplement.

Nutritional Information For A Scoop Of Pea Isolate

A typical 30-gram scoop contains the following:

• Protein: 25g (83.33%)

• Fat: 2.4g (4.8%)

• Saturates: 0g (0%)

• Carbohydrates: 2g (6.66%)

• Sugars: 0g (0%)

• Salt: 0g (0%)

• Calories: 115 kcals


Benefits Of Taking Pea Protein Powder

Pea isolate is an excellent choice of dietary supplement. It provides several health and nutritional benefits to those who consume it. Below we will go into these benefits in more detail.

A High-Quality Plant Based Protein Source

The best pea protein powders typically contain around 75% protein content per serving. This makes it an ideal supplement to use if you want to increase your protein intake. Research has found pea isolate to be similar to whey when it comes to promoting strength, performance, body composition, and muscular adaptations (1).

Pea Protein Powders Have Good Amino Acid Profiles

Pea protein powder is often described as a complete protein (this is not a universal opinion due to low methionine levels). The reason for it being described as a complete protein is, it contains all nine essential amino acids. Obtaining these is often a concern for vegans as the easiest way to obtain them are from animal based food sources. The only essential amino acid this supplement is low in is methionine (2).

Individuals taking this supplement can compensate for this by incorporating methionine elsewhere in their diet. Animal proteins which are high in methionine include turkey, beef, tuna and pork. Obviously, this is not an option if following a plant-based diet so any of the following options can be incorporated: dried seaweed, brazil nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, pistachio nuts peanuts and oats.

Pea Protein Powder Contains High Levels Of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Pea isolate has good levels of BCAAs. BCAA’s support muscle metabolism and assist the growth of muscle tissue (3). The BCAA’s are leucine, isoleucine and valine. It is also rich in arginine. Research has found arginine promotes heart health. It promotes healthy blood flow by dilating and relaxing the arteries. Researches have even labelled arginine as a potential therapy for cardiovascular disorders (4). Additionally, studies have found arginine to be beneficial to the healing of wounds (5). Research also found arginine can enhance high intensity exercise tolerance, it is likely these effects are attributable, in large part, to the increased nitric oxide availability afforded by arginine ingestion. The reason for this is likely to involve an increased muscle O2 supply and direct effects of nitric oxide on muscle contractile efficiency and/or mitochondrial function (17).

Pea Protein Powder Is Rich In Iron

A typical pea protein shake will contain between 5 and 7.5mg of iron per serving. For men and post-menopausal women, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 8 grams. This means one protein shake can meet as much as 93.75% of this allowance. And for premenopausal women the RDA is 18 grams. This gives up to 41.67% of this allowance (6). This iron content makes this an interesting supplement for those with iron deficiencies. Researchers have even found pea protein to be a promising encapsulating matrix for the controlled release of iron (7).

Pea Isolate Is Vegan Friendly, Suitable For Vegetarians And Hypoallergenic

Pea isolate is a supplement which fits into a wide range of diets. As it is a vegan protein powder, it is also suitable for vegetarians. It is hypoallergenic as it does not contain any of the main 8 food allergens: peanuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree-nuts, soy, wheat and cow’s milk (8). However, if being dairy free, gluten free, soy free and egg free is of importance. It is advised to check the facility in which the supplement you are purchasing does not handle eggs, soy or milk.

Unlike a lot of plant based powders pea protein isolate is low in lectins which are often responsible for discomfort, bloating and excessive flatulence. With just 0.2 (HU/mg protein), most people should not experience any issues taking this supplement. The only people advised to stay clear of pea protein are those with known allergies or intolerances to peas.

Building Muscle Mass With Pea Protein

Pea protein isolate is one of the leading vegan protein powders. It compares favourably with whey protein, having a similar protein content and similarly promoting strength, performance, body composition, and muscular adaptations (1).  This means taking this powder is a great way to support muscle growth. However, taking any protein supplements alone will not achieve muscle growth. This must be combined with an effective resistance training program (9). Researchers state persistence in training and diet is essential to achieving increased muscle mass (10).

Increases Satiety and Can Assist With Weight Loss

Protein increases satiety. This means by incorporating more protein into your diet with a supplement such as pea isolate you will fill fuller (11). If you are attempting to lose weight this is particularly helpful as you need to maintain a calorie deficit. By filling fuller the probability of binge eating is lessened. This means it is more likely you will stick to your diet plan and achieve your weight loss goals.

A study found taking yellow pea protein 30 minutes prior to eating pizza resulted in a reduction in the calories consumed. This further supports the ability of pea protein isolate to assist with weight loss by promoting satiety and reducing calories consumed (12). Research has also found pea isolate and whey have a similar effect on appetite, energy expenditure, and 24 hour energy intake in both young and older healthy adult men (16). This suggests pea isolate should be just as helpful at promoting satiety in those using protein shakes to assist with weight loss.


What Dosage Of Pea Protein Isolate Should You Take?

In most cases, it is recommended to follow the serving instructions on the packaging of your pea protein. This is normally 1 or 2 scoops or pea protein powder per day. With the recommended time to take this post-workout. It is important to remember; pea protein powder is a supplement to a healthy diet and if you are already hitting your daily protein intake through food additional protein is not necessary.

How Does Pea Isolate Compare To Whey

Pea isolate will typically contain a 75% protein content per serving, whilst whey will have between 70% and 90% protein content (isolate will have a higher content than concentrate). Both of these supplements are high quality protein sources. However, whey protein has higher levels of nearly every amino acid, with pea isolate noticeably low in methionine. Despite this research has found both powders to produce similar results in terms of strength, performance and muscle gain (1).

This may be due to having similar protein and branched amino acid contents. Both contain similar levels of the BCAA leucine as a percentage of weight, approximately 10% and 9% respectively. This amino acid plays a key role in muscle protein synthesis. This makes pea arguably the best of the plant based protein powders and one of the leading dairy free supplements. A research study has hypothesis the leucine and BCAA content of pea supplements may be vital in its ability to match whey protein. This was after the research found whey was more effective at mitigating muscle damage after intensive exercise (15). This means if choosing pea isolate, it is important to check BCAA and leucine levels if similar results to whey are required.


Are There Any Potential Side Effects From Taking Pea Protein Powder?

Pea protein isolate is a supplement which is well tolerated by most people. However, if you are on a sodium restricted diet, pea protein powder may not be the best choice for you. The reason for this is because some pea protein powders contain a high amount of sodium per serving.

Although pea protein isolate, is relative low in fibres due to the protein being isolated from the fibre and starch of milled yellow peas. It can still cause bloating in some individuals. Research has found fibre in protein powders, causes bloating issues in some people (13). Plant based proteins often contain at least one of the following: beans, grains and legumes. In the case of pea protein powder, yellow split peas are legumes. However, during production the protein is isolated for the milled yellow peas, removing most of the fibre and starch. A typical pea protein isolate powder will have 0.2 (HU/mg protein).

A high consumption of lectins per day can cause bloating (14). If you encounter any bloating or discomfort after consuming pea protein shakes, lectins could be the cause of your bloating. If this is the case it is a good idea to check the label and ensure the serving size you are using in your shake is as advised. If you are not following the serving recommendations, this could be why you’re suffering from bloating.

If you are following a vegan diet and encounter any problems with pea protein powder a solution may be go to a powder based on pea protein hydrolysate rather than pea protein isolate. This type of protein powder is partially digested which could cause any symptoms of bloating to lessen or disappear completely. Another alternative is a soy protein isolate which is free of lectins.


Pea Protein Powder Summary

Pea protein powder is a high-quality protein source which is plant based and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is easily digested, rich in iron and arginine. Being a vegan friendly supplement and hypoallergenic, pea protein isolate is compatible with most diets. Pea protein can assist with a range of goals including weight loss, athletic performance, gains in muscle mass and strength development.

Pea Protein Powder FAQ

How Is Pea Isolate Powder Made?

Pea protein isolate powder is made from yellow peas. The protein is isolated from the peas to give pea protein isolate. This is done by drying out the peas and mechanically removing the outer shell. Then the pea is milled down into a flour. This flour consists of protein, starch and fibre. The next step is to isolate the protein from this flour. As it is water soluble wet filtration and centrifugation is used. Then the protein is precipitated to its isoelectric point. This dry spray is solubilised given a beige white powder. This beige white powder is pea isolate and will be typically contains 75g of high quality protein per 100g of powder.

Does Pea Protein Powder Contain Dairy?

No, it is dairy free. It is made from yellow split peas. However, it may be manufactured in a facility which handles milk.

Can Pea Protein Powder Assist With Muscle Gain?

Yes, it can assist with increased muscle mass. This supplement has a high protein content and is a complete protein. This combined with resistance training has been shown to promote the growth of muscle tissue.

Can Pea Isolate Help Individuals With A Protein Deficiency?

Yes, it is a protein supplement, therefore it can help with increasing an individual’s protein intake. This is especially useful for people with a protein deficiency.

Is Pea Isolate Keto Friendly?

Yes, it is keto friendly. Any protein powder which has a low carbohydrate value per serving would be keto friendly.

What Are The Different Flavours Of Pea Isolate Available?

There are several different flavours available. The most popular include vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

What Is The Best Time Of The Day To Take Pea Isolate?

Pea protein can be taken at any time of the day. Popular times include both pre and post workout. It is also convenient to take pea protein shakes when you are not able to find a source of high quality nutrition. For example, when you are travelling.

Can Pea Isolate Help With Weight Loss?

Yes, pea isolate can help with weight loss. The high protein content contributes to increased satiety and the preservation of lean muscle mass. However, it is important to know, a calorie deficit must be maintained to lose weight.

Is Pea Isolate Suitable For Vegetarians?

Yes, this supplement is suitable for vegetarians.

Is Pea Isolate Suitable For Vegans?

Yes, this supplement is suitable for vegans.

Are Pea Isolate Shakes Healthy?

Yes, they are healthy for most people when taken as a supplement to a well-balanced diet. It is advised individuals with any intolerance or allergy to peas, avoid taking this supplement. Additionally, those advised to avoid high purine foods in their diet should consult with a medical profession before consuming this supplement. For healthy individuals, this vegan supplement is a simple way to increase your daily protein intake. Benefits of this include improved satiety, the maintenance of muscle mass and assistance of muscle growth. Additionally, it is a great source of iron and rich in arginine, which can help promote heart health. If in doubt about supplementation seek professional medical advice.



1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6358922/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6245118/

3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16365096/

4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15465805/

5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19638312/

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222310/

7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23990387/

8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23229594/

9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25169440/

10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950543/

11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16950139/

12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22916818/

13. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/integrative-approaches-to-reduce-ibs-symptoms-2019021115918

14. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/lectins/

15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468723/

16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7016484/

17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20724562/

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