If you google “protein powder”, you will very quickly be bombarded with a plethora of options available – from whey, to grass-fed whey, to soy, and pea. Is one better than the other?
Plant- Based Vs. Whey Protein Powder
The short answer is no. It comes down to what protein powder works best to supplement your lifestyle, activity and nutrition.
But, how do you tell the difference between them and decide which one is right for you?
Dhvani Shah, a nutritionist, breaks down the points of difference between whey protein and plant-based protein.
Whey protein is a concentrate of the protein “whey” found in animal milk, usually isolated from cow/buffalo milk and then dried into a powder for consumption.
Plant protein, on the other hand, can be sourced from a variety of ingredients like rice, soy, hemp, quinoa, pea etc that in turn is sold either as a combination formula (combining two or more sources) or an individual sourced protein.
Both forms of protein are available in a quick absorb formula to be consumed post workout. Certain protein formulations allow the powders to be added while cooking food or as a thickening agent.
Does One Have A Superior Protein Profile?
Whey protein is a high biological value protein since it has a complete essential amino acid profile. Whey contains all the 9 essential amino acids to make it a complete protein. Hence, no other protein is required to be eaten with it to compensate for the protein profile.
On the other hand, Plant-based ingredients (except soy) are devoid of one or more essential amino acids, making them incomplete proteins. However, a complete protein profile can be achieved by blending two or more sources.
Näck’s Plant Protein Powder combines protein from yellow peas, which is short of the essential amino acids cysteine and methionine but rich in lysine, with protein from rice which is low in lysine but very high in cysteine and methionine, giving it a complete protein profile.
Do They Have Different Effects On The Body?
Digestive distress and bloating are commonly associated with the consumption of whey protein. Milk contains lactose– a sugar that is an allergen for more than 60% of India’s population. It has been found that every second person you come across has some level of lactose intolerance.
Whey protein, though devoid of sugars, can contain traces of lactose that may be attributed to the gastric irritability some people face after consuming it. In addition, people with PCOD, insulin-resistant diabetes, hypothyroidism, and menstrual disturbances are usually advised to stay off lactose and dairy. Hence, Plant protein powder could be a good choice for this group of individuals. Plant protein powders rarely cause digestive distress due to the absence of any allergen.
Both whey and plant proteins( with combined sources) have a complete protein profile to effectively support muscle gain. However, with that said, plant protein is generally lower in BCAA ( Branched chain amino acids) vs whey protein , which is of high importance for muscle growth.
It can be difficult to navigate the battle between whey protein and plant protein. It all boils down to your individual diet, lifestyle and overall goals be it losing weight, building muscle or supplementing energy levels.