Does Pea Protein Make You Gain Weight?

Written by Ben Carlisle

Last updated on: Sep 18, 2022

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Pea protein powders can help people gain weight. To gain weight whilst taking pea protein you will need to be consuming a calorie surplus. Pea protein powder has a complete amino acid profile and can be used by people wanting to gain muscle. Increased muscle mass will lead to weight gain.

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Pea protein powder is one of the best plant based protein sources. Protein is needed by our body to help us grow and restore muscles, skin, bones, organs, hair and nails (1). It is often used by those avoiding animal based proteins as a means to get the required protein do develop muscle mass.

However, pea protein powder can also be used to assist those seeking to lose weight. Studies have shown pea protein is able to effectively help those looking to lose weight. This is because when taken as a supplement of meal replacement it has qualities that help to suppress and reduce cravings (2). Additionally, when taken as a smoothie or shake instead of a meal it will have a lower calorie count than the meal it is replacing.

What is Pea Protein Powder?

Protein powders have been around for many years now and are often used to help people achieve goals related to fitness and weight. In recent years, plant based diets have become increasingly popular. In an attempt to get the required protein from plant protein sources, the demand for vegan protein powders has risen.

Pea protein powder is one of several vegan protein powders currently available. As the name suggests, pea protein powder is a plant protein powder made from legumes. With the majority of legumes being yellow split peas, hence the beige colouring of this protein powder.

Just like whey protein, pea protein powder is easily consumed, and is normally taken as a shake or smoothie. However, pea protein recipes include pancakes, muffins, cookies and energy balls.

What Process Is Used To Make Pea Protein Powder?

Once harvested the peas are left to dry out. They are then milled into a powder and added to water so that the starch within them can be removed. Manufacturers chose to use this non-intrusive process as it allows the pea powder to retain all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Can Pea Protein Cause Me To Gain Unwanted Weight?

You will only gain weight if you are consuming a calorie surplus. If you do not want to gain weight you need to make sure you are in a calorie deficit or calorie equilibrium. Studies have shown pea protein is an aid to both those wanting to gain weight and lose weight. If taking pea protein to gain weight and you want to avoid any body fat accumulation it is important to check the nutritional profile of all the calories you are consuming. An individual consuming a calorie surplus of plant based proteins will have very different results to one taking the same extra calories from cakes.

Pea protein powder is often used as a meal replacement by those wanting to lose weight.This is beneficial to those seeking to lose weight because the protein qualities found within pea protein powder, together with its fibre and resistant starch components, help to suppress appetite and glycemia (3). Additionally, the ability to control calories consumed makes this an attractive choice for those maintaining a calorie deficit. The calorie count of a shake is normally less than the calorie count of the meal it has replaced. However, the calorie count of a pea protein power will vary from brand to brand, so it is important to carefully read the labelling.

If you do find after 3 or 4 weeks, of taking pea protein powder you are gaining weight rather than losing you should check your daily calorie intake as well as the serving size you are taking. Check the label carefully to ensure your measurement for each serving is correct. Also check the levels of any sugar content in the powder. This includes natural sugars, such as honey. Finally check any sweeteners added to the protein powder. You want to try and ensure any sweeteners in your pea protein powder are plant based as these ones are lower in calories (3). The best pea protein powders will contain zero or at the very most minimal amounts of added ingredients.

Can Pea Protein Help Build Muscle Mass?

Yes, pea protein can help build muscle mass. The correct protein intake combined with resistance training, is a vital component in the building of muscle mass. Over the past two decades, the potential muscle-related benefits achieved by consuming higher-protein diets have become increasingly clear (4).

If you are following a vegan diet and resistance training in an effort to build muscle, this protein powder is a great way to ensure you are fuelling yourself with sufficient protein to rebuild and grow muscle tissue. Studies have shown consuming a protein shake post-workout is the best way to achieve optimum results when building muscle mass (5). Pea protein is one of the leading plant based proteins. It performs well against products such as the animal protein whey protein isolate.  It is a complete protein which contains all nine  essential amino acids, even though it is low in methionine. Studies have shown no difference in the increase of muscle thickness between two groups, one taking pea and one whey protein. And the researchers state pea protein could be used as an alternative to whey protein dietary products (6). Overall pea is a great supplement for vegans to build muscle mass it is high in protein and has a complete amino acid profile (7).

Further Benefits Of Pea Protein

One of the great things about pea protein powder is that it is hypoallergenic as it is free from the most common allergens: milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nut, fish, and shellfish (8).

Taking pea protein powder can not only enhance your levels of protein but also boost your intake of other nutrients and vitamins. It is a complete protein. It has high levels of the branched-chain amino acids arginine, leucine, isoleucine and valine. These essential amino acids help with heart health, the regulation of energy homeostasis, gut health and also boost the immune system (9). Additionally, pea protein is naturally rich in iron.

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Does Pea Protein Cause Bloating?

Some people find with plant based proteins including pea they can suffer from discomfort and bloating. Research into whether protein supplements make you feel bloated have discovered, the added fibre found inside protein powders can create the feeling of being bloated (10). Plant based proteins are generally made with beans, grains and/or legumes, which are all high in lectins. Studies have found consuming too many lectins per day, can cause bloating and gas (11).

A pea protein isolate supplement will typically have a low level of lectins, approximately 0.2 (HU/mg of protein). If you are experiencing discomfort, soy protein isolate is a good plant based alternative. Soy protein isolate contains 0.0 (HU/mg of protein). Another reason for bloating can simply be because of taking more than the recommended dosage. Not only can this lead you feeling bloated. It can cause you to gain weight from extra calorie consumption. Exceeding the recommended dosage does not just occur from taking too many servings. It can also happen due to not measuring serving size correctly.

Pea Protein Consumption And Weight Gain

Pea protein powder is a versatile source of protein. It can be used to assist with weight loss and to support weight gain through muscle growth. Before using pea protein powder in pursuit of any goal, you should think carefully about your aims. This means to work out how many calories you need to consume, a diet plan and the exercise program you will follow.

Your calorie count will determine whether you gain or lose weight. If you are seeking to gain weight your training program and diet will determine the quality of weight you put on. The same is true if you are trying to lose weight, diet and training will play a large role in how much lean muscle you preserve. Overall, pea protein powder is a fantastic supplement which has all nine essential amino acids. It can offer the same benefits as animal proteins like whey protein, when it comes to weight loss and muscle growth.

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