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Pea Protein: With Powerful Amino Acids

Pea protein is a low-allergen, purely vegetable source of amino acids that is also rich in iron – not only for athletes and vegetarians but also for older people who want to prevent muscle loss. The amino acids in the pea protein can complement other vegetable proteins in such a way that a protein with the biological value of animal proteins is created. For strength athletes, pea protein is a valuable addition to adequate training, and people who want to lose weight use pea protein to accelerate weight loss.

Pea protein for strong muscles and potency

The pea protein consists of a very high-quality combination of essential and non-essential amino acids. Amino acids, in turn, are the basic building blocks of our body’s own protein and thus of our body tissue including the muscles.

But not only well-formed muscles are built from amino acids, but also healthy smooth skin, beautiful hair, and a perfectly functioning immune system.

A consistent supply of amino acids is also associated with enduring potency – especially if attention is paid to high levels of the amino acid arginine.

And arginine in particular is found in the protein of peas in unusually high proportions – namely almost 7 grams of arginine per 100 grams of pea protein powder. The often-praised whey protein, on the other hand, contains just a quarter of this amount of arginine.

The pea protein is also particularly rich in lysine, the amino acid that – together with arginine – can be very useful for active people.

Amino acids for more performance and health

The amino acid lysine is one of the essential amino acids. These are amino acids that the body cannot produce itself and therefore have to be ingested with food.

Lysine has numerous functions in the body. For example, it is involved in the absorption of calcium and is therefore crucial for bone health.

Lysine also plays an important role in the formation of collagen. Collagen, in turn, is an important component of our connective tissue (bones, cartilage, skin, tendons), so that the musculoskeletal system would suffer massively if there were a lysine deficiency.

Lysine is also the precursor to carnitine, a substance made from two amino acids: lysine and methionine.

Carnitine plays a key role in burning fat and transports fatty acids directly to the cell’s power plants – the mitochondria. There, the fatty acids are burned and converted into energy.

A carnitine deficiency, therefore, means that fat cannot be broken down. For this reason, carnitine is occasionally recommended as a dietary supplement to accompany diets to boost fat burning.

An optimal carnitine supply has an equally positive effect on athletic performance. Because especially in endurance sports, the organism is dependent on its ability to mobilize additional reserves from the burning of fatty acids.

Carnitine can also have a very beneficial effect on cholesterol and blood fat levels – as a study with diabetics showed. In diabetes, carnitine levels seem to be regularly very low (as well as in people who suffer from a lot of stress). At the same time, diabetics have a disproportionately high cholesterol level.

In their 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists at the University of Catania in southern Italy found that carnitine supplementation not only significantly reduced cholesterol but also triglyceride levels.

A suitable supply of carnitine or lysine is therefore an aspect of overall health that should not be underestimated, and a lysine deficiency should be avoided at all costs.

Pea protein prevents lysine deficiency

Lysine deficiency can occur particularly when cereals are the main source of protein since lysine is present in relatively small amounts in cereal protein.

A deficiency situation could therefore be possible with a purely plant-based diet if few legumes and no soy products are consumed at the same time.

Unfortunately, symptoms of a lysine deficiency are not clear and can point to many other causes as well. One example is exhaustion. But also nausea, drowsiness, loss of appetite, general physical restlessness, bloodshot eyes, even anemia (low blood count), and growth disorders in children.

Even if the competent authorities have not yet set any official guideline values ​​for the requirements of individual amino acids, an estimated average daily lysine requirement of 800 to 3000 mg for a person weighing 70 kilograms is assumed.

A portion of a high-quality pea protein (20 g with over 80 percent protein content) already provides about 500 mg of lysine.

The high levels of lysine and arginine in pea protein already have great effects on increasing performance and endurance.

But the pea protein promotes muscle growth and muscle regeneration in another way – which is not only interesting for athletes, but also for older people who, through a healthy supply of protein, also prevent nutritional muscle weakness and thus not least their risk of falling with all the associated factors can reduce consequences.

Pea protein promotes muscle building and muscle regeneration

Intensive strength training – but ultimately every everyday activity – causes signs of wear and tear on the muscle tissue. Our organism is therefore constantly striving to obtain amino acids from the proteins ingested through food and to use them to repair and regenerate the muscles.

For this purpose, pea protein provides very high amounts of those amino acids that are particularly important for muscle building.

Said amino acids are called BCAA, which is the English abbreviation for branched-chain amino acids (Branched-Chain Amino Acids). These include the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

40 percent of our daily requirement of essential amino acids should come from BCAAs.

This means that they must be consumed in significantly larger amounts than the remaining essential amino acids. The pea protein can be a very good support here. It delivers BCAA values ​​that are almost as high as whey protein.

If you are well supplied with BCAA, it should be possible to prevent muscle loss and early fatigue in endurance sports.

The pea protein can also prevent fatigue in NON-sporting everyday life, namely with the help of its high iron content

Pea Protein – 1 serving provides 30 percent of your daily iron needs

Just one serving (20-25 g) of pea protein per day covers 30 percent of a woman’s iron requirement, which is around 15 mg of iron (in men it’s around 10 mg).

Iron is known to be an important part of human physiology and is used e.g. needed for oxygen transport in the blood.

Iron is also an important component of many enzymes and is therefore involved in numerous reactions in the organism.

One of these iron-containing enzymes is catalase, which breaks down the metabolic toxin hydrogen peroxide and thus protects the cell from damage.

As is usual with plant-based iron, the iron from pea protein is also non-haemic, i.e. trivalent iron, the absorption of which can be increased if you combine the daily portion of pea protein with freshly squeezed orange juice or some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

On the other hand, coffee, black tea, or foods rich in calcium should not be drunk or consumed at the same time as pea protein intake, as they can inhibit iron absorption.

Pea protein optimizes the effects of your diet

Proteins and thus also the pea protein show a so-called “thermal” effect.

This means that when they are digested in the body, heat is generated and, moreover, the digestion of proteins requires proportionally more energy than the digestion of carbohydrates or fat.

Apparently, up to 30 percent of the protein calories are already burned during the digestion of the proteins.

A study published in Nutrition Journal in 2011 also showed that a pea protein shake drunk 30 minutes before a meal can be so filling that much less of the main meal is consumed.

If, on the other hand, the subjects ate whey or egg protein as a starter, this effect was not evident and they ate normal-sized portions. The pea protein supports weight loss in another way:

Pea protein lowers blood sugar levels

When you eat carbohydrate-rich foods, blood sugar levels naturally rise, which prompts the pancreas to release larger amounts of the hormone insulin.

Insulin ensures that the carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) also get into the cells, where they are burned or stored (in the form of glycogen and/or fat).

Food made from isolated carbohydrates in particular (polished rice, white bread, sweets) increases blood sugar levels in the long term, promotes the storage of fats, and can also lead to the development of insulin resistance (precursor to type 2 diabetes) in the long term.

However, replacing isolated carbohydrates with wholesome foods and supplementing the diet with high-quality proteins leads to optimal regulation of blood sugar and insulin levels. The result is that excessive fat storage is prevented.

Pea protein has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects

A study published in 2012 showed that pea protein may even have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

In this study, pea protein significantly inhibited the nitric oxide produced during cell metabolism, which can lead to cell damage in excessive amounts.

The inhibition of pro-inflammatory messenger substances by the pea protein was also significant so that the pea protein can be taken into account very well as part of a diet rich in vital substances for the prevention of chronic diseases, which are very often associated with latent (unnoticed) inflammatory processes.

However, pea protein is not only so beneficial because it contains numerous beneficial substances, but also because it does NOT contain many things and is therefore very easily digestible.

Pea protein: ideal for allergy sufferers

Pea protein is hypoallergenic, making it ideal for those people who have allergies and food intolerances that do not tolerate eggs, dairy, or soy products.

Pea protein is naturally completely soy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, lactose-free, and milk-protein-free. However, allergy sufferers or people with intolerances must always look at the list of ingredients when buying protein powders.

Because you often find fillers, colorings, sweeteners, sugar substitutes, or other additives that can lead to intolerances in people who are already sensitive.

So if you buy a protein powder, make sure that it doesn’t contain any critical ingredients and that the protein is ideally 100% pure and organic.

Pea protein: be careful with histamine intolerance

Green peas are considered to be moderately well tolerated in the case of histamine intolerance (HIT), so occasional consumption of small amounts is often tolerated. However, pea protein is not made from green peas, but from split peas, i.e. peeled ripe peas. These are among the legumes that are considered histamine liberators, which means that they can stimulate the release of histamine in the body.

However, especially with histamine intolerance, it can be very different, so a good motto for peas is:

If you want to be careful, do without peas and products made from them. Anyone who has only mildly developed HIT or tolerates some foods that are usually not so well suited to HIT, try a small amount of pea protein (e.g. from friends) and see how it works.

Pea Protein: A Purine Source?

When it comes to legumes, the question often arises as to how high their purine content is. Purines are part of the genetic material and are therefore found in all cell nuclei. The more concentrated and cell-rich a food is, the higher its purine content is in general.

In the body, purines are broken down into uric acid. However, when blood levels of uric acid rise excessively, uric acid can lead to health problems such as B. to gout or kidney stones.

Foods that are particularly rich in purines include sardines, mackerel, herring, broth, offal, and caviar.

Moderate sources of purines include meat, poultry, fish, and certain vegetables such as: As asparagus, dried beans, lentils, mushrooms, and also dried peas.

Interestingly, however, studies have shown that purine-rich plant foods are apparently not classified by the organism as being as stressful as purine-rich animal foods – even if their purine content is identical.

And so there was a clear risk of gout from the consumption of seafood and meat, but not from the consumption of plant sources of purines.

The dosage

In order to achieve optimal muscle regeneration after a daily workout, the well-known American fitness trainer and weight coach Tom Venuto (author of “Burn the Fat, feed the muscle”) recommends that strength athletes take 30 to 50 g of concentrated protein – which is two daily portions equates to 20 to 25 grams of protein.

People who only want to supplement their diet with high-quality protein and do not do any specific weight training should take one or two servings of protein powder according to their needs and their diet.

Pea protein: Perfect amino acid mix

The biological value of the pea protein can be increased to such an extent that it reaches the biological value of whey protein. This is very easy to do by combining the pea protein with rice protein – in a ratio of 30:70 (30% pea protein, 70% rice protein).

While the rice protein lacks the large amounts of lysine in the pea protein, the rice protein supplies the amino acid methionine, which in turn is not found in such large numbers in the pea protein but is required for the production of the carnitine presented above.

In this way, all the amino acids are available to the organism in the required quantity and it can draw from a full “construction kit” for building up endogenous proteins.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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