There are many reasons you could decide to add a little extra protein to your diet. Maybe you exercise a lot to build muscle strength and look for quicker recovery, you want to lose weight, or perhaps it’s you’re not getting enough protein from your regular diet.
There are lots of different protein sources out there but in terms of quality and convenience whey and pea protein are the best choices. So, what’s the difference between the two?
We explain their individual benefits and differences below so you can easily pick a protein powder that best suits you.
Whey and pea protein. What are they made of?
Whey protein is sourced from milk, which consists of both whey and casein. A microfiltration process separates whey from casein and leaves the low-lactose, nutrient-rich compound we call whey protein.
Soluble pea protein is extracted from GMO-free golden peas and is completely plant-based. It doesn’t contain any of the 8 main allergens, gluten or lactose, making it easy to digest, safe for people with allergies and a great choice for vegans.
Both proteins come in powder form and easily mix and blend in liquid and other recipes.
Nutritional value of whey and pea protein
Whey and pea protein contain very similar amounts of calories and carbs and the exact same amount of protein which is typically between 24g to 27g per 30g serve. Whey Protein Concentrate and Pea Protein Isolate are about 80% protein.
A bigger difference can be seen in the amino-acid department. Both protein sources are considered complete as they contain all 9 essential amino acids that are needed for muscle growth and repair.
Whey protein contains more Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCCAs), which are amino-acid building blocks and make up 66% of muscle tissue. Whereas pea protein contains three times more arginine than whey protein - an essential amino-acid for growing muscles.
So they’re not the same, but all their benefits added up, they’re fairly similar in nutritional value.
Calories and energy
Because it’s derived from milk, whey contains the saturated fat and macronutrients found in all animal products. Whey protein contains about 0.6g per 30g of good healthy fats that will provide your body with the energy you need for your workouts. The extra amount of calories resulting from fats is marginal.
A dose of whey protein concentrate has approximately 120 calories, whereas a serving of pea protein isolate contains only 110 calories.
Absorption and digestibility
Whey protein is very fast absorbing, quickly assimilated by the body, making it perfect to fasten muscle recovery. The vegetable-based option is slower but very easy to digest. Both protein supplements are great at keeping you feeling satiated for a long time, making them exceptional for weight loss and management.
Health benefits and sustainability
On top of that, each carries unique health benefits. Whey specifically is packed with calcium and potassium. Because of its composition, it can be used as a supplement as well as a meal replacement. Research has shown that pea protein can lower blood pressure and because it’s dairy-free it is less inflammatory and unlikely to cause bloating.
Pea protein is also regarded as a more sustainable source (land requirements for animal protein production are 10 times superior than what’s required for plant-based proteins).
How do whey and pea protein taste?
Whey and pea protein powder blends very well in all liquids: water, cow’s milk or nut milk.
This said they are different in the resulting consistency. Whey protein offers a consistency that is simply very similar to traditional milk. Pea protein powder absorbs more of the liquid it’s mixed with, the result is a drink with a thicker consistency, closer to a thick fruit juice or smoothie to give you a reference.
Made from different sources, it is only natural that whey and vegetable protein powders taste different.
Unflavoured whey protein powder tastes quite bland, almost like diluted milk. It is perfectly drinkable by itself, though a bit bitter.
Pea protein tastes logically like... pea. The vegan protein option definitely has a mild starchy aftertaste. Though we would n’t recommend drinking or baking with unflavoured pea protein, we do recommend you tasting our flavoured plant protein isolates. Our organic flavours made from raw cacao and vanilla bean, plus a natural sweetener cover most of the vegetative notes.
So, which protein source is right for you?
Recent research shows plant-based protein can be just as effective for building muscle, which means your preference really does depend on just a few simple factors: food intolerances and allergies, your personal taste and values, and whether you want to get creative with recipes or make a quick meal fix.
Pea protein is ideal for vegans and lactose intolerants, whereas people who can consume whey can have it either way.
If you still struggle to make a choice, our sample packs are a low-cost, easy way of finding what type and flavour of protein work best for you.
Building muscle and recovery
Suitable for people with food allergies
Suitable for vegans.