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Whey Protein vs. Pea Protein vs. Soy Protein 

Before we dwell upon which is the best among whey, pea, and soy protein, let’s understand what we need in any good supplement other than, of course, the total protein provided per serving. 

There are two main factors that are considered crucial for determining the effectiveness of any protein supplement: Biological value (BV): This represents the absorption of the protein into our bodies. It is commonly measured through nitrogen balance. Higher the BV, the better the protein.  Amino Acid Profile: Complete proteins have all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.   Whey protein has a better amino acid profile compared to plant-based (Pea and Soy) supplements [1],[2] and they also have inferior digestibility [3]. Both of the vegan sources are incomplete in methionine.  Also, when we talk from a muscle-building perspective, vegan sources will require larger servings in order to reach the leucine threshold require to kick start muscle building[2] Just comparing vegan sources amongst each other, soy protein is the best with regard to its digestibility and superior amino acid profile. [1] The other protein sources can top soy when they are consumed in blended form. For example, having 70% pea with 30% rice is superior in terms of amino acid profile and leucine density, as against soy protein in isolation [4]. As a practical takeaway, we would like to suggest that any of the above supplements will work just fine if used smartly and as long as they are used just to fill the gap in daily protein intake.  Other factors like dietary preference, flavoring, affordability, and allergies also matter when it comes to selecting the right supplement for you.  In conclusion, for plant-based protein supplements, consider consuming their blended version or increase your overall protein intake to maximize your gains. Reference  [1] Kalman, D.S., 2014. Amino acid composition of an organic brown rice protein concentrate and isolate compared to soy and whey concentrates and isolates. Foods, 3(3), pp.394-402. [2] Gorissen, S.H., Crombag, J.J., Senden, J.M., Waterval, W.H., Bierau, J., Verdijk, L.B. and van Loon, L.J., 2018. Protein content and amino acid composition of commercially available plant-based protein isolates. Amino acids, 50(12), pp.1685-1695.  [3] Mathai, J.K., Liu, Y. and Stein, H.H., 2017. Values for digestible indispensable amino acid scores (DIAAS) for some dairy and plant proteins may better describe protein quality than values calculated using the concept for protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scores (PDCAAS). British Journal of Nutrition, 117(4), pp.490-499. [4] Banaszek, A., Townsend, J.R., Bender, D., Vantrease, W.C., Marshall, A.C. and Johnson, K.D., 2019. The effects of whey vs. pea protein on physical adaptations following 8-weeks of high-intensity functional training (HIFT): A pilot study. Sports, 7(1), p.12.
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