Is Plant-Based Protein Powder Better Than Whey Protein?

Most manufacturers today offer plant-based protein powder and whey (extracted from cow’s milk) to suit different lifestyles and diet restrictions.

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Plant-based protein powder and whey (extracted from cow’s milk) are readily available to meet the needs of different lifestyles and dietary restrictions nowadays. PHOTO via @GETTY IMAGES

KAMPALA | LIFESTYLE UGANDA (https://lifestyleuganda.com/) — Protein powders make up a significant chunk of the multibillion-dollar nutrition supplement industry. 

Nowadays, most manufacturers offer plant-based protein powder and whey (extracted from cow’s milk) to cater to different lifestyles and dietary restrictions. 

But with all the available options, is there a superior form of protein powder?

What is Plant Protein and Whey Protein?

Arguably the most popular protein supplement, whey protein powder is derived from whey – a protein-rich liquid byproduct of the cheese-making process. 

Once collected, manufacturers extract water, carbohydrates, fat, and other unnecessary components from the whey before spray-drying it into a powder.

On the other hand, plant based protein powder is derived from different plants, including soy, rice, hemp, and pea. 

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Unlike whey, plant protein powders may contain extracts from a single plant or a blend of plants that complement each other.

Pros of Whey Protein

Near-Perfect Amino Acid Score

Most animal-based products like eggs, dairy, meat, and fish have a high biological value, i.e., they contain all the essential amino acids, including BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) that enhance protein synthesis and muscle recovery. 

Because of this, whey consumers get all the amino acids the bodies need for optimal muscle growth and recovery.

Beneficial Compounds

Besides protein, whey supplements are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and healthy fats, among other beneficial compounds. 

Whey protein concentrate, in particular, contains more of these nutrients than whey protein isolate.

Cons of Whey Protein

Indigestibility

Like any other dairy product, whey contains lactose – a type of sugar present in milk that many people cannot digest properly. 

Gastric irritation is rife among whey protein consumers. Not to mention, whey protein is not an option for anyone with lactose intolerance.

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Artificial Additives

Since whey protein is naturally bland, many manufacturers add artificial sweeteners and flavors to enhance its palatability. 

These additives might make them less healthy than plant proteins.

Pros of Plant Protein powder

High Nutritional Value

Plant proteins are rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber, two essential nutrients almost non-existent in animal proteins. 

In addition, protein powder from plants such as soy and pea contains all the necessary amino acids, including leucine which is crucial for muscle building. 

According to Legion Athletics, “pea protein’s main strengths are its high bioavailability and abundance of leucine.”

Digestibility

Plant proteins are suitable for just about anyone; they are dairy-free, hence less likely to irritate the digestive system. 

Some manufacturers even fortify their plant protein powders with digestive enzymes to help the body process the proteins without gastric irritation.

No Artificial Additives

Unlike whey, most plant proteins taste good naturally. If you are interested in an all-natural protein powder, look no further than plant protein supplements. 

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Plant+, for instance, contains no artificial sweeteners and flavors.

Cons of Plant Protein Powder

Incomplete Proteins

Most plant proteins do not contain adequate quantities of all the nine crucial amino acids necessary for protein synthesis. They are often lacking in lysine and isoleucine. 

Nevertheless, this is barely an issue since manufacturers can pair them with compatible plant proteins to offset their low biological values.

Which is Better?

Ultimately, the best protein powder will depend on your preferences, dietary needs, and protein content per serving. 

If you opt for a plant-based protein powder, choose a brand with multiple protein sources.

Editorial Staff

Ass. Editor

Art & Lifestyle web-blog with an African-America spice. Lifestyle Uganda was founded, by a team of 3 social media gurus. Let's talk WhatsApp +256790536205.

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