Protein is a vital nutrient that is key in building and repairing muscles. Regarding protein supplements, pea protein, and whey are two of the most popular options. But how do these two protein sources stack up against each other? Let’s find out.
This article explores the differences between pea protein and whey, so you can decide which is right for you and your fitness goals.
What's the Difference Between Pea Protein and Whey Protein?
Pea protein and whey protein are both popular sources of protein for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. However, several key differences between these two protein sources are worth exploring.
Made from yellow split peas
Derived from cow’s milk
Yes, suitable for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies
No, contains lactose
Can provide longer-lasting feeling of fullness
May not provide the same level of satiety as pea protein
Amino acid profile
Complete protein, contains all essential amino acids, but lower in some (like methionine and cysteine)
Complete protein, contains all essential amino acids, high in leucine, and rapidly absorbed
Yes, made from plant-based sources
No, derived from an animal source
Lower carbon footprint, less water use, and fewer resources needed to produce
Higher carbon footprint and resource usage
Rarely causes allergic reactions
Can cause allergic reactions in some people
Generally, less expensive than whey protein
Generally, more expensive than pea protein
Protein content per serving
Typically contains 20-25 grams of protein per serving
Typically contains 20-30 grams of protein per serving
Generally lower in carbohydrates than whey protein
May contain more carbohydrates due to lactose content
Generally lower in fat than whey protein
May contain more fat than pea protein, depending on the type of whey
Less likely to cause digestive discomfort than whey protein
May cause digestive discomfort in some individuals, particularly those with lactose intolerance
Often minimally processed and may be considered more “natural”
Requires more processing and may include added ingredients such as artificial sweeteners or flavorings
Texture and taste
May have a slightly grainy texture and earthy taste
Generally, has a smooth texture and mild taste, although some may find it too sweet or artificial
Use in cooking and baking
May not work well in some recipes due to its texture and taste
Can be used in a variety of recipes, including smoothies, baked goods, and more
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a type of protein that’s found in cow’s milk. It is a complete protein, which means it has all the important amino acids our body needs to grow and repair muscles.
Because it is simple for the body to digest and absorb, whey protein is a popular choice among many individuals for usage as a dietary supplement. This is particularly true among those interested in sports and physical fitness.
This makes it a convenient option after a workout when our muscles need protein to recover.
You can find whey protein in different forms, like powders, bars, and shakes, and it comes in various flavors to suit your taste buds.
However, it is worth noting that some people might experience digestive issues or allergic reactions to whey protein due to its lactose. So, it is always best to consult a healthcare professional before adding it to your diet.
What Is Pea Protein?
Pea protein is a type of protein that’s made from yellow split peas. It is a plant-based protein that many people choose as an alternative to animal-based proteins like whey.
It contains all the important amino acids our body needs to build and repair muscles, like whey protein.
Pea protein is a great option for people who are vegetarian, vegan or have lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. You can find it in different forms, like powders, shakes, and bars, and it can be used as a dietary supplement to support muscle growth and recovery.
It is important to note that while pea protein is generally safe for most people, some may experience digestive discomfort or allergic reactions. So, it is always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional before adding it to your diet.
Although whey and pea protein have similar protein content, they have different amino acid profiles. Whey protein has a slightly higher amount of the amino acid leucine, which is important for muscle growth.
To achieve the same rate of muscle protein synthesis as whey protein, it is recommended that individuals looking to maximize muscle growth consume a slightly higher dose of pea protein or supplement it with additional leucine.
Essential Amino Acids
Complete Protein (min %)
Pea Protein (%)
Whey Protein (%)
The nutritional value of 100gms of Pea and Whey Protein Powder is given below:
The following allergies are caused by consuming pea protein powder and whey protein powder:
Pea Protein Allergy:
Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to pea protein, the main ingredient in pea protein powder.
Symptoms may include hives, itching, swelling, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing.
Whey protein is derived from milk, and individuals with a milk allergy may also be allergic to whey protein.
Milk allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies milk protein as harmful and triggers an allergic reaction. Symptoms may include hives, itching, swelling, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing.
Both pea protein and whey protein powders contain lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products.
When consuming these supplements, individuals with lactose intolerance may experience digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, and stomach cramps.
Cross-Reactivity with Other Proteins:
Both pea protein and whey protein may cross-react with other proteins, such as casein, found in milk, and individuals with allergies to these proteins may also experience allergic reactions to pea protein and whey protein.
Both pea protein and whey protein powders may be contaminated with other allergens, such as soy or gluten, during manufacturing.
Individuals with allergies to these substances should check the label carefully and choose a product free from contamination.
Interactions with Medications:
Both pea protein and whey protein powders may interact with certain medications and cause adverse reactions.
Individuals taking medication should consult with a healthcare provider before consuming these supplements.
Pea and whey protein powder are popular supplements used to increase protein intake. Here are some of the health benefits of each powder:
Health Benefits of Pea Protein Powder
Supports Muscle Growth and Repair:
Pea protein powder is a rich source of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that support muscle growth and repair. It is as effective as a whey protein powder in promoting muscle growth and recovery after exercise.
Promotes Satiety and Weight Loss:
Pea protein powder has been shown to promote feelings of fullness and reduce appetite, leading to weight loss.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels:
Pea protein powder has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Good Source of Iron:
Pea protein powder is a good source of iron, an essential mineral that is important for oxygen transport and energy production in the body.
Health Benefits of Whey Protein Powder:
Supports Muscle Growth and Repair:
Whey protein powder is a rich source of BCAAs that support muscle growth and repair. It is effective in promoting muscle growth and recovery after exercise.
Promotes Weight Loss:
Whey protein powder has been shown to promote weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing feelings of fullness.
Supports Immune Function:
Whey protein powder contains immunoglobulins and lactoferrin, which have been shown to support immune function and reduce the risk of infection.
Lowers Blood Pressure:
Whey protein powder has been shown to lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Good Source of Calcium:
Whey protein powder is a good source of calcium, an essential mineral important for bone health and muscle function.
Does Pea Protein Help with Muscle Gain?
Yes, pea protein can help you build muscle. Pea protein is a type of protein that comes from plants and contains important building blocks called amino acids.
Some of these amino acids are especially good for building muscle. Studies have shown that pea protein can be as effective as a popular protein source called whey protein for building muscle, especially when combined with exercise.
Pea protein and whey protein are two popular protein supplements with unique differences. While whey protein is derived from milk and is a complete protein source, pea protein is derived from peas and is a good option for those with dietary restrictions.
Both proteins have potential health benefits, making them suitable for different fitness goals and dietary needs.
Understanding these differences can help individuals decide when to select a protein supplement that best fits their needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pea protein and whey protein are not completely interchangeable as they have different nutritional compositions.
However, they can be used similarly and provide a source of high-quality protein.
Pea protein is generally easier to digest than whey protein, especially for those with digestive issues or intolerances.
Pea protein is also hypoallergenic, making it a good option for those with food allergies or sensitivities.
Pea protein is not a complete protein on its own, as it is low in one essential amino acid called methionine.
However, it can be combined with other protein sources high in methionine, such as rice protein, to create a complete protein source.