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Meet your fitness and nutrition goals with these well-rounded formulas. Bamboo Extract
Pea protein powder is not only one of the best protein powders, but it’s also a great choice when it comes to plant-based, vegan protein powders. And while incorporating high-protein foods into your weekly menu is a great way to help meet your dietary goals, it can still feel difficult to get all of the nutrients you need. That’s where the best pea protein powders come into play.
“On average, two tablespoons of high-quality pea [protein] powder can contain between 15-20 g of protein,” explains Laura Vetter, R.D.N., C.D.C.E.S., an outpatient dietitian at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. “For healthy individuals, the general rule for protein is 0.8 grams per kg or 0.35 g per pound [of body weight].” And, pea protein is full of important amino acids that are easily digestible, Vetter notes.
Meet the experts: Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. Ex-P, is the owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, Keri Gans, R.D.N., is the author of The Small Change Diet and podcast host of The Keri Report, and Laura Vetter, R.D.N., C.D.C.E.S. is an outpatient dietitian at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J.
“Relative to other plant-based protein sources, pea protein would be one of the best recommendations,” notes Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. Ex-P, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. So, if you’re looking to enhance a plant-based diet, build muscle and level up the benefits of lifting weights, or kickstart a weight loss journey, be sure to consider adding pea protein powder to your diet.
Ahead, experts helped us corral the best pea protein powders on the market. From organic pea protein powders to flavored varieties, to those with no added sugars and everything in between—we have an option here for you.
Disclaimer: Dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases. Be cautious about taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or nursing and be sure to consult your doctor before taking new supplements (or providing them to a family member) in any situation, as they can interfere with medication.
“NAKED Nutrition Pea Protein Isolate has a whopping 27 g of protein per serving for only 120 calories,” explains White. “The only ingredient is yellow pea protein isolate, a very high quality of pea protein.” White also notes that thanks to heavy metal and third-party testing (meaning it’s tested by an outside lab not affiliated with the manufacturing of the product), it’s certain that this protein powder contains nothing but pea protein. Vetter also recommends this protein powder for its lack of additives and artificial sweeteners.
This pea protein powder, “Is another high-quality protein with only one ingredient: yellow pea protein isolate,” White explains. Vetter also stands by this product for its affordability and because it’s a single-ingredient option that’s non-GMO.
“For those of you who prioritize organic products, Nutricost organic pea protein isolate is a great option,” White says. “With only 90 calories and 20 g of protein per serving, this one-ingredient protein powder is a great addition to the diet.” Reviewers are pleased with the overall value and taste of the protein powder, as well.
This organic protein powder from Organic has over 42,000 five-star reviews on Amazon to back it up as a contender. It’s made without added sugars or artificial ingredients and comes in delicious flavors like strawberries and cream, pumpkin spice, and iced coffee. “This is so delicious, especially with almond milk, ice, and a banana,” one reviewer wrote. “I tried another brand after I went through this bottle and returned immediately!” Another wrote, “The flavor of this product is the best I personally have ever had.”
Reviewers love this pea protein powder for its “pleasant taste,” and “perfect flavor.” White says that, “Many pea proteins on the market are unflavored, but this third-party tested pea protein isolate can add some flavor to your smoothies and shakes.”
This pea protein powder blend is approved by Vetter for its superb quality, high protein content, and antioxidant-rich formula. It also contains a blend of probiotics to support digestion while fueling your muscles with 30 g of protein per serving.
Gans recommends this unflavored pea protein powder because it’s a single ingredient formula with no added sugars, and it’s third-party tested, meaning another lab has evaluated the formula for quality assurance. This option offers a creamy, neutral flavor making it ideal for those who don’t want their protein powder interfering with the taste of their smoothies, beverages, or other recipes.
This Gans-recommended pea protein powder is USDA certified organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. The only ingredient on the list is organic pea protein isolate derived from yellow peas, and it boasts a “smooth texture and creamy flavor,” making it a great addition to any drink or recipe.
“Carlyle pea protein isolate powder contains 29 g of protein per serving and a small amount of fat and carbohydrate content,” explains White. “With a slightly higher calorie content than other protein powders (160 calories per serving) this protein powder may be more beneficial to have with a quick snack for a meal replacement if you’re on the go.”
“This product only has one ingredient—the peas! They only work with farmers who follow sustainable farming practices,” explains Gans. “There is no added sugar and has a low sodium content.” It’s also organic and a number of reviewers note that it is one of the best vegan protein powders on the market.
✔️ Look for third-party testing. “Dietary supplements, including protein powders, are not regulated by the FDA,” explains White. “To ensure that a supplement is safe, it is important to see if a supplement has a third-party certification,” such as Informed Choice certified, NSF certified, or GMP quality assured, among others.
✔️ Try an isolate (usually). White suggests looking for a pea protein isolate. “Isolate protein powders are the highest quality of protein powder and contain only the protein source itself,” White explains. “Other forms of protein powders, such as a protein concentrate, can contain additional fat and carbohydrate additives.”
✔️ Understand your goals. While isolates may be generally recommended for most individuals, you should consider your goals. If you are looking for a meal replacement or to gain weight, a concentrate might be a better option for you. “Concentrates are used to add calories for weight gain or as a meal replacement,” explains Vetter. “Concentrates have less protein with the addition of carbohydrates and fat.”
Pea protein powder is made from yellow pea isolate, which has been shown to inhibit inflammatory responses, according to a study cited by White. Any inflammation would likely occur from excess saturated fat and added sugar, but overall “pea protein is not inflammatory,” explains White.
While pea protein powder has many great benefits, its digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS), of which protein sources are ranked, according to White, can be considered a negative (compared to animal protein sources).
“Indispensable amino acids are essential amino acids that can not be created in the body, so they must be consumed through protein sources,” White explains. “Animal protein sources will have higher rankings because they will have all essential amino acids in sufficient amounts, [and] plant protein sources typically do not contain all essential amino acids at sufficient levels, giving them lower rankings.” For example, dry milk has a very high ranking of 144%, while pea protein has a score of 82%.
Not only is pea protein powder a great vegan option, it’s also one of the better sources of proteins in general. If you are familiar with protein powder, you might know that whey protein tends to be considered “the gold standard of protein powders,” says White. Yet, a recent study found that whey protein powder and pea protein powder are highly comparable in terms of post-workout results.
These study results may be due to the fact that pea protein powder is very high in leucine, “Which is a very important amino acid for muscle building,” explains White. “Relative to whey protein powder, pea protein powder has almost the same amount of leucine present per 100 g.” In 100 g of whey protein powder, there is 8.8 g of leucine present, whereas in 100 g of pea protein powder, there is 8.4 g of leucine.
Aside from being a great source of protein and amino acids, “The beauty of pea protein is that it is free of top allergens making it practically a great choice for any type of diet,” adds Gans. Additional benefits of pea protein include that it is typically lactose-free, gluten-free, high in iron, and has a mild flavor with a creamy texture, according to Vetter.
We consulted Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. Ex-P, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, Keri Gans, R.D.N., author The Small Change Diet and podcast host of The Keri Report, and Laura Vetter, R.D.N., C.D.C.E.S., an outpatient dietitian at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. to find the best pea protein powders. We also combed through countless ratings, reviews, and product specs to narrow down the best pea protein powders for various needs and preferences.
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