PLANT PROTEIN POWDERS: What Are They?
Plant Protein Powders are nowhere near as popular as other, dairy based powders, such as whey or casein, but they are becoming more and more popular in recent days. Protein powders made of plant mixes tend to contain a combination of brown rice, peas, hemp, chia or flax seeds. Some, however, contain only one ingredient – such as pea protein, soy protein, or brown rice protein. We’ll take a short look at some of these different types, and their benefits and drawbacks, a little later on.
BENEFITS OF PLANT PROTEINS
What are the benefits of plant protein powders, and what is a good reason to pick one over other kinds of protein?
First, as plant proteins are not made from milk, they are especially useful for vegans, and for those who are lactose intolerant. Many people report the absence of bloating or gas that dairy-based powders give them. Many plant-based powders also lack the fillers, additives and preservatives that many other powders contain.
Plant Proteins are also usually slower and harder to digest than whey proteins. Consuming a plant protein shake will keep you fuller for longer than a whey protein shake, and this is beneficial for controlling your appetite – especially when trying to lose weight.
DOWNSIDES TO PLANT PROTEINS
The flipside to plant proteins being digested more slowly than whey or egg proteins, is that they may not be optimal for consuming immediately after a workout. It will take longer for the protein and amino acids to reach your muscles than a whey protein.
Another drawback to plant protein is that, while many people do better with plant proteins than dairy proteins, some, who are not accustomed to large quantities of plants and fiber in their diet, may report upset stomachs or bloating for the first few days or weeks. This will subside as your body grows more used to it.
Pea Protein is completely hypoallergenic, containing no gluten or dairy. As a result, not only is it great for those suffering from lactose-intolerance, Celiac or gluten-sensitivity, but it also does not cause any bloating or gas, a common side effect of whey protein and all its fillers.
Pea protein has a nearly complete amino-acid profile, containing nearly all the essential BCAA’s (such as Leucine, isoleucine and valine) and most of the conditional and non-essential amino acids. It is especially high in arginine. Arginine is a conditional amino acid that has great benefits for protein synthesis, and the building of muscle.
Pea proteins also have a very high lysine content. Lysine is the precursor of carnitine, which is responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol. Lysine is also very beneficial and important to the creation of collagen, which is the primary make-up of connective tissues such as bones, skin, tendons. While lysine deficiency is rare, it is actually more common among vegetarians, vegans and those who avoid dairy. A good pea protein can help add lysine back in to your diet.
Soy protein is, like pea protein, a very popular option for a plant-based and vegan protein. It contains a complete range of amino acids, especially arginine and glutamine, and is good for controlling hunger and appetite.
However, soy consumption has a few drawbacks. For one, it contains a lot of phytoestrogens – estrogens found in plants. While estrogen is not harmful in of itself, most individual’s diets are already very high in estrogen (especially mens’), and adding too much can be detrimental. Diets too high in estrogens has also been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers in both men and women.
Second, most soy in the US has been genetically engineered and contains GMO’s, which have been shown to present a whole array of health problems and risks, such as cancer, immune disorders and chronic digestive disorders.
BROWN RICE PROTEIN
Brown rice protein is hypoallergenic and vegan, and contains a good amount of protein per serving (about 20g per 25g serving). It has been shown to aid in muscle-building and fat-burning, and to help stabilize blood pressure. Brown rice elicits a very low glycemic response, and does not cause a very high spike in blood sugar. This is great both for controlling hunger and cravings, as blood sugar has been shown to have an effect on those, as well as insulin response and storing fat. The higher your blood sugar, the more likely you are to store carbs as fat.
Brown rice protein also contains a very high amount of antioxidants, which are great for improving heart and kidney health, as well as liver function, acting as an additional guard against oxidative damage and free radicals.
OTHER KINDS OF PLANT PROTEINS
There are several different kinds of plant proteins available, such as brown rice, peas, hemp, chia or flax seeds. However, these ingredients are more commonly used in a blend with other plant proteins, and very little research exists on these. They have their own health benefits in a host of other areas, such as antioxidants and Omega-3 content.