Whey protein has seemingly always been the most popular protein powder for muscle gain. This is largely due to the fact that whey protein powder was the first protein powder to become widely commercialized. It has had enormous staying power in the fitness industry because it was ‘first to market.’ But whey protein’s grip on the fitness industry is slipping as other proteins are becoming increasingly popular.
Why is Whey Protein Becoming Less Popular?
There are two main reasons why whey protein is becoming less popular among athletes. First, approximately 65% of athletes who use whey protein will experience side effects such as bloating or fatigue. Symptoms like bloating and fatigue can negatively impact both your physique and the results of your workout. Experts have also linked whey to medical complications such as digestive problems, kidney stones, liver problems and heart disease. Also, severe medical problems typically only evolve when excessive amounts of whey protein are consumed over long periods of time. It’s important to take any protein supplement in moderation and to use multiple protein powders as each one offers a slightly different nutritional profile.
The second reason is that other proteins are becoming increasingly more popular. In particular, plant-based proteins are rapidly rising in popularity. There are several causes for this. One cause is that more people are consuming plant-based foods than ever before. In recent years, the number of vegans in the U.S. has increased by over 600%. And even more people aren’t completely going vegan but are electing to consume more plant-based foods for health reasons. Plant-based diets have been linked to a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, lower body fat, lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar levels.
Plant-Based Proteins Vs Animal-Based Proteins
Most athletes typically consume whey protein – at least whey they first start using protein supplements. But, it’s a bit of a misnomer to conclude that whey is the best protein powder for muscle gain. Again, because it’s been the most popular supplement for quite some time now. And if you were to walk into a GNC store or Vitamin Shoppe, it’s probably what they’ll recommend that you buy. Why? Because it’s popular and a staple of the fitness industry.
But many athletes, such as Kyrie Irving, Nate Diaz, Venus and Serena Williams and Mike Tyson are just a few of the current and former professional athletes that are realizing the benefits of a plant-based and/or vegan lifestyle. And a recent study identified that there is no difference between plant-based proteins and animal-based proteins in MMA fighters.
In fact, many of the MMA fighters that participated in the study reported that the plant-based protein was easier on their digestive tract, gave them more energy and helped to build and/or maintain lean muscle mass.
The Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain is Pea Protein
If you agree with the premise that there is no difference between plant-based proteins and animal-based proteins in terms of the amount of protein consumed and the quality of the protein consumed, the next question is which plant-protein powder is best?
And that answer is very simple: pea protein powder is the best protein powder for muscle gain. Pea protein powder contains 80% of protein per serving. This is significantly higher than other plant-based proteins such as hemp (50%) and chia (35%). Don’t get me wrong, because hemp protein powder and chia protein powder are still very good sources of protein with unique benefits. But hemp protein is more well-known for its fiber content and promoting heart health. Chia protein is more well-known for its unique ability to replace eggs while baking.
Pea protein is well-known for its high protein content. And the main function of protein within the body is to allow the body to build and maintain muscle mass.
Comparing Pea Protein Vs Whey Protein
A while back, I compared a very popular whey protein powder to our pea protein powder. To make this an equal comparison, I had to do some mathematics in order to compare equal dosages of each protein powder to one another. This is because the recommended serving for whey protein supplements is significantly higher than the recommended serving of pea protein powder.
After we did the arithmetic, we came to a conclusion: one serving of pea protein contains more grams of protein than an equal serving of whey protein. If you we’re to take pea protein powder in the same serving size as whey, you would receive 26 grams of protein in each serving. The whey protein powder contains 24 grams of protein powder per the same serving size.
Long story short, don’t be fooled by what a company claims on their packaging. The percentage of protein content is the most important factor when buying protein powders – not the amount of protein per serving. And the protein content of pea protein powder is unparalleled at 80%, making it the best protein powder for muscle gain.
Pea Protein Powder is Also Great for Cutting Weight
We can probably agree that pea protein is the best protein powder for muscle gain. But that’s not the only thing pea protein is great for. Pea protein is also the best protein for cutting fat. Since most bodybuilders and athletes cycle through periods of bulking and cutting, it’s important to have protein powders that enable you to achieve results in both phases.
Each of these phases require different diets. Bulking requires your diet to include a high amount of carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein and a lower amount of fat. We recommend a ration of 40 to 60% carbohydrates, 25 to 35% protein and 15 to 25% fats while bulking.
On the other hand, cutting requires that you decrease the amount of carbohydrates you consume and increase the amounts of protein and healthy fats that you consume. When cutting, we recommend that your diet consist of approximately 10 to 30% carbohydrates, 40 to 50% protein and 30 to 40% of healthy fats.
Because pea protein powder has such a high amount of protein content, it’s ideal for both bulking and cutting weight.