Have you been thinking about adding a plant-based protein powders to your diet but aren’t sure where to start? With so many options out there like pea protein and soy protein, it can get confusing. You want a powder that’s affordable, sustainable, and packs a nutritional punch.
But which one should you choose? Pea protein vs soy protein? Both provide an easy way to boost your daily protein intake without the fat and cholesterol found in animal-based powders. However, they differ in a few key areas like amino acid profile, digestibility, and nutrition. To decide which powder is right for you, let’s compare pea protein and soy protein so you can choose the best plant-based protein for your needs.
Pea Protein vs Soy Protein: Overview of the Differences
When it comes to plant-based protein powders, the two most popular options are pea protein vs soy protein. Both are complete proteins and naturally gluten-free, but there are some key differences to consider.
Pea protein is lower in calories and fat compared to soy, with one scoop containing about 110 calories and 1 gram of fat. Soy protein typically has around 140 calories and 3 grams of fat per scoop. However, soy protein tends to contain more protein, with about 20 grams per scoop compared to 15-17 grams in pea protein.
Pea protein powder is usually easier to digest since peas are legumes, not true nuts. Soy protein comes from soybeans, and some people experience gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas or cramps from soy. If you have a soy allergy, pea protein is the obvious choice.
Pea protein is considered more sustainable to produce compared to soy. Peas require fewer resources to grow and release nitrogen back into the soil. Most pea protein is sourced from yellow peas grown in the US and Canada. Soy production has been linked to deforestation in some countries.
Pea protein powder typically contains 20-30 grams of protein per scoop, while soy protein powder contains 10-20 grams per scoop. So if maximum protein is your goal, pea protein may have a slight edge. However, both provide high-quality, complete protein with all nine essential amino acids our bodies need.
Both pea protein and soy protein work well in smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and protein bars or balls. Pea protein has an earthy, vegetal flavor, while soy protein is nuttier in flavor. Soy protein also tends to have a grittier, grainier texture. For most uses, either one would work and comes down to your personal nutritional and sustainability preferences.
In the end, the choice between pea protein vs soy protein depends on what factors matter most to you. Both can provide an easy plant-based protein boost, so try samples of each and go with what you enjoy!
Why Do We Need Pea Protein and Soy Protein?
Why do we need pea protein and soy protein? These plant-based protein powders are essential for anyone following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Pea protein powder is made from yellow peas, a legume packed with amino acids – the building blocks of protein. Pea protein powder contains all nine essential amino acids our body needs, making it a complete protein source. It’s also naturally gluten-free and hypoallergenic.
Soy protein powder comes from soybeans and also contains all the essential amino acids. However, some people are allergic or sensitive to soy. For these individuals, pea protein powder may be a better choice.
Benefits of Pea and Soy Protein
Both pea and soy protein powders provide many of the same health benefits as animal-based proteins:
•They help build and repair muscle. Whether you’re an athlete or just want to maintain muscle mass as you age, these plant-based proteins can help.
•They aid weight management. Protein powders help keep you feeling full and reduce cravings, which can support weight loss and maintenance.
•They promote bone health. Pea and soy protein contain calcium, magnesium and phosphorus – all important for building and maintaining strong bones.
•They improve heart health. Replacing some animal proteins with plant-based sources has been shown to lower heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol and blood pressure.
•They boost energy. Protein provides the amino acids your body needs to produce neurotransmitters that regulate energy and alertness. Pea and soy protein powders can give you an energy boost when you need it most.
In summary, pea and soy protein powders offer comparable nutrition and benefits. For most people, either option can be part of a healthy diet. The choice comes down to your specific needs, preferences and whether you want to avoid common allergens.
Pea Protein vs Soy Protein: Benefits and Drawbacks
When deciding between pea protein and soy protein powder, there are some important factors to consider regarding the benefits and potential drawbacks of each. Let’s explore how these two plant-based protein powders compare.
Pea protein and soy protein are both complete proteins, containing all nine essential amino acids our bodies need. However, pea protein tends to have a better amino acid profile, with higher amounts of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are important for muscle growth.
Pea protein also typically has more iron and magnesium. On the other hand, soy protein usually has more calcium, vitamin C and antioxidants. For the most balanced nutrition, you could consider a protein powder blend that contains both pea and soy.
Allergens and Digestibility:
Pea protein is generally regarded as hypoallergenic since peas are less likely to trigger allergic reactions or intolerances. Pea protein is also usually more easily digested. Soy, on the other hand, is a common allergen and can be hard for some to digest due to compounds called anti-nutrients. If you have a soy allergy or sensitivity, pea protein is probably your better choice.
When it comes to sustainability and environmental impact, soy protein may have a slight edge. Soy is a highly efficient crop, producing more protein per acre than peas. Most soy is also non-GMO. However, pea protein is still considered an eco-friendly choice. As with all crops, it depends on how and where they are grown. Look for powders with sustainable and organic certification.
In general, pea protein tends to be a bit more expensive than soy protein. Pea protein powder can cost $15 to $30 for a one to two pound container, while a comparable amount of soy protein powder may range from $10 to $20. However, prices can vary between brands and where you shop. You may be able to find good deals on either type.
In the end, the best plant-based protein powder for you comes down to your specific needs, preferences and priorities. Evaluate how pea protein and soy protein compare in the areas that matter most to you. And remember, you don’t have to choose just one—a blend can give you the best of both worlds!
Best Uses for Pea Protein vs Soy Protein
When it comes to plant-based protein powders, pea protein and soy protein are two of the most popular options. Which one is right for you depends on your specific needs and preferences.
For Muscle Building:
If you’re looking for a protein powder to boost your muscle gains, pea protein may have a slight edge. It tends to have a higher amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) like leucine, which are important for muscle protein synthesis. Pea protein also has a higher amount of arginine, which can improve blood flow during exercise.
However, soy protein is a complete protein and also contains all the amino acids your muscles need. Both pea protein and soy protein can work well as part of a muscle-building diet and exercise plan.
For weight loss:
Both pea protein and soy protein can aid weight loss by helping you feel full and reducing appetite. Pea protein may have a slight advantage here since it’s less energy-dense, with about 120 calories and 1 gram of fat per scoop versus 140 calories and 2 grams of fat for soy protein. The fiber in pea protein can also help with satiety.
That said, for weight loss what matters most is an overall calorie deficit, so either protein powder can work as a supplement. The best approach is to choose one you enjoy and will stick with long-term.
If you have issues with digestion or allergies, pea protein is generally easier on the stomach and less likely to cause gastrointestinal distress. It’s also naturally gluten-free and hypoallergenic. Soy protein contains compounds called oligosaccharides that some people don’t digest well and can cause gas or bloating. Soy is also a common allergen.
So if you have a sensitive stomach or soy allergy, pea protein is probably your best choice. For most people, though, either pea protein or soy protein should digest reasonably well, especially if you start with a small amount and build up slowly.
In the end, both pea protein and soy protein can be part of a healthy diet. Consider your specific goals, needs, and preferences to determine which plant-based protein powder is right for you. And of course, always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Amino Acid Profile: Which Has More BCAAs?
When it comes to plant-based protein powders, pea protein and soy protein are two of the most popular options. But which has the better amino acid profile, especially when it comes to branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs? Let’s compare.
Pea protein is a good source of BCAAs, containing about 5 grams of leucine, isoleucine, and valine per 25 gram scoop. Leucine, in particular, is important for muscle protein synthesis. Pea protein powder tends to be a bit lower in methionine but higher in cysteine compared to most animal proteins. The main downside is that pea protein powder can have an unpleasant, earthy taste for some. However, many brands now offer flavored versions that help mask the taste.
Soy protein powder contains a solid amount of BCAAs as well, with about 6 grams per 25 gram scoop. It has a higher amount of methionine but slightly lower cysteine than pea protein. Soy also contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. However, some people avoid soy due to potential hormone-related or digestive issues. Soy protein powder does tend to have a milder flavor compared to pea protein, though.
When it comes down to it, both pea protein and soy protein can be good options for adding more plant-based protein and BCAAs to your diet. Pea protein may have a slight advantage for muscle gain and workout recovery due to its leucine content.
But soy can also be a complete protein source for those avoiding or allergic to pea protein. As with many supplements, you may need to experiment to see which you prefer based on nutrition, taste, and digestibility. The best option is the one that fits your needs and that you will consistently use.
Digestibility: Pea Protein May Be Easier to Digest
Compared to soy protein, pea protein may be easier for some people to digest. Pea protein is made from yellow peas, a legume that is usually better tolerated than soybeans.
Those with a soy allergy obviously can’t consume soy protein and will want to choose pea protein instead. While pea protein is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, check with your doctor first if you have any concerns.
Bloating and Digestive Issues
Many people experience bloating, gas, and indigestion from soy-based protein powders. Soy contains compounds called anti-nutrients that can irritate the stomach. Pea protein lacks many of these anti-nutrients and is considered a more gut-friendly option. If you’ve had issues with soy protein in the past, pea protein could be a good alternative worth trying.
Some research shows pea protein may have a slight edge over soy protein when it comes to protein absorption in the body. One study found that pea protein resulted in higher plasma amino acid levels over a few hours compared to soy. While more research is needed, this could indicate pea protein is digested and absorbed slightly better.
In the end, the best plant protein for you comes down to personal tolerance and taste preference. Both pea protein and soy protein can be part of a healthy diet. However, if digestibility and gut health are a concern, pea protein may have a slight advantage and could be worth exploring as an alternative source of protein powder. Try single-ingredient pea protein or a pea/rice protein blend and see how you feel. Your tummy will thank you!
Allergies and Intolerances: Soy More Likely to Cause Issues
When it comes to allergies and intolerances, soy protein is more likely to cause issues for some people. Soy is one of the “big eight” allergens, along with nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, wheat and peanuts.
If you have a soy allergy, your body’s immune system mistakenly identifies soy proteins as harmful and releases antibodies to attack them. This can cause symptoms like hives, itching, swelling, and even anaphylaxis. Those with a soy allergy should avoid soy protein powder and any product containing soy.
Even if you don’t have an official soy allergy, you may have a soy intolerance. Your body has trouble digesting soy, causing gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea. Soy intolerances are often due to a sensitivity to certain compounds in soy, such as oligosaccharides, trypsin inhibitors or isoflavones.
Pea protein, on the other hand, is less likely to cause allergic or intolerant reactions. Peas are not a common allergenic food, so pea protein powder is typically well-tolerated. However, some people may still react to components in pea protein, such as lectins. If you experience digestive issues or other symptoms after using pea protein, you may have a pea sensitivity.
In the end, the choice comes down to your body and personal experiences. If soy has caused you problems in the past or you want to avoid potential issues altogether, pea protein powder is probably your safer choice. However, many people consume soy protein powder with no problems. The only way to know for sure how you will react is to try both and see which agrees with you best.
Sustainability: Pea Protein Production Has Less Environmental Impact
When it comes to sustainability, pea protein production has a smaller environmental footprint compared to soy protein.
Less Land and Water Required
Pea plants require significantly less land and water to grow compared to soybeans. Peas are able to be grown in rotation with other crops, and do not deplete the soil of nitrogen like soy does.
This means farmers are able to sustainably rotate pea crops and other crops year after year. In contrast, most soybeans are grown as a monocrop, which requires clearing more land and depletes the soil of nutrients.
Peas also require less irrigation and are more drought tolerant than soybeans. Pea plants need around 50-70% less water to produce the same amount of protein as soybeans. This results in a lower demand for fresh water resources and minimizes the environmental impact.
The production of pea protein also generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to soy protein. Since peas require less land, fertilizer, and fuel to harvest, the overall carbon footprint is reduced significantly. Studies show that pea protein production emits around 50% less carbon dioxide than soy protein production.
Some brands are also sourcing peas from North America, which further lowers the emissions associated with transportation and shipping. Locally-sourced peas have a more sustainable supply chain with a smaller transportation footprint.
Natural Nitrogen Fixation
Finally, pea plants are nitrogen-fixing, which means they can convert nitrogen from the air into ammonia, a form that plants can use. This natural process helps peas enrich the soil with nitrogen for future crops. The nitrogen pea plants provide to the soil is a sustainable alternative to synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. This helps support healthy crop rotation and benefits soil health over the long run.
In summary, pea protein is an eco-friendly alternative to soy protein due to its efficient use of land and water, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and ability to naturally fix nitrogen in the soil. For the environmentally-conscious, pea protein is a more sustainable choice.
Our Top Picks: Best Pea Protein and Soy Protein Powders
When it comes to plant-based protein powders, two of the most popular options are pea protein and soy protein. Both provide a good amount of protein per scoop, but there are some differences to consider when choosing between them.
Pea protein powder is made from yellow peas. It’s a good option for anyone avoiding soy, gluten or dairy. Pea protein tends to be more expensive, but it has a neutral flavor and creamy texture that works well in smoothies. It provides about 20-30 grams of protein per scoop.
Some of the top pea protein powder brands are:
- Naked Pea
- PlantFusion Complete Protein
- Nutiva Organic Plant Protein Superfood
Soy protein powder is made from soybeans and contains all the essential amino acids our body needs. It’s typically more affordable than pea protein and provides about 20 grams of protein per scoop. However, soy protein has a stronger flavor that some find unpleasant, and it may not blend as smoothly in some recipes.
Some recommended soy protein powder brands are:
- Bob’s Red Mill Soy Protein Powder
- Anthony’s Premium Pea Protein
- Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder
In the end, the choice comes down to your specific needs and preferences. Pea protein and soy protein can both be part of a balanced diet. I would suggest starting with small packs of different brands to find one with the protein content, flavor, texture and price point that suits you best. Whether you go with pea protein, soy protein or a blend, adding more plant-based protein to your day can only help boost your health and nutrition.
So there you have it, the lowdown on two popular plant-based protein powders. At the end of the day, the choice comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. If you’re looking for a protein powder that’s highly digestible and hypoallergenic, pea protein is probably your best bet. If affordability and sustainability are most important, soy protein could be a great option. The good news is you really can’t go wrong with either one. They’re both highly nutritious, environmentally-friendly alternatives to whey protein. Why not give them both a try and see which one you prefer? Your muscles will thank you, and so will the planet.