Plant based vs Whey protein is one of the more popularly debated topics within the health and fitness industry, and understandably so. There is plenty research out there! From absorption and digestion, to amino acid content and nutrient density, there are a variety of aspects which we could dissect to distinguish between the features and benefits of different proteins. So, where should we start? Let’s begin at the place that is actually responsible for the digestion and nutrient absorption, whilst also being vital to our immunity and mental health; the gut!
The gut is majorly impacted by what we consume and according to research, some people have problems digesting whey protein and experience symptoms such as bloating, gas, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. This doesn't sound like a good time for anyone, so we've broken down some great plant alternatives and why they are the more gut friendly option when ramping up your protein intake!
Firstly, why is gut health so important?
The gut microbiome affects the body from birth and throughout our lives, helping to control the digestion of our food, our central nervous system and immune health, basically putting our body into working order! Have you ever heard the team, “you are what you eat”? Well, there is a lot of truth to that. The gut absorbs what you choose to put into it, and from there it influences everything from our skin, mood and weight, to our overall sense of wellbeing. To put it simply, the gut is like a petrol tank, if you put high octane in your car, it will run smoother and have better mileage, and the same goes for your body, fill yourself with high quality nutrients and you will feel the difference physically.
A staple in many people’s supplement stack, Pea Protein is a vegan-friendly powder which is known to effectively assist muscle repair and recovery, increase satiety and encourage weight loss. This plant protein is high in immune supporting antioxidants, which are known to have beneficial effects on gut flora. Pea Protein also has anti-inflammatory properties which help promote the growth of good gut bacteria, in turn helping maintain a healthy weight. Additional benefits include Vitamin K for strong bones, Coumestrol to help lower the risk of stomach cancer, and compared to Whey Protein, Pea Protein has nearly the same BCAA levels, as opposed to other plant proteins.
Regardless of its carbohydrate content, rice actually contains a solid amount of protein. The great thing about Rice Protein, however, is during processing the starch (carbohydrate) content is removed and we are left with a high protein, vegan-friendly powder. Unlike Whey Protein, Rice Protein is hypo-allergenic and much more easily digested so it is a great gut-friendly option for people with a sensitive stomach.
All the peanut buttery goodness without the fat! This protein (also known as Peanut Flour), packs a flavour punch, whilst being calorie-conscious and nutritionally ideal. One serve of Peanut Protein is known to be a good source of phosphorus, great for good gut bacteria survival, and magnesium, which carries its own powerful digestive benefits amongst others.