Whey Isn’t the Only Way

Unless you’ve been looking at non-whey protein powders, you probably haven’t heard about all of the great benefits of brown rice protein and pea protein. They have a high possible protein content (at least around 80% for both), a smooth texture that goes well into any type of smoothie, and are very absorbable.

Brown rice protein extract  is derived from the entire grain (bran, endosperm, and germ), found in a concentrate or isolate form, and has a distinct taste. Pea protein, on the other hand, is extracted from yellow  peas and has a more neutral taste. Other benefits are: 

  • Brown rice is an inexpensive, readily available source of protein that is easy on most people’s stomach. Pea protein is often a little more expensive, but it is also not as likely to produce an allergic reaction. 
  • The most common ingredients that protein powders use are milk and soy, but these are also among the top allergenic foods in north America.
  • While many people argue that rice is not a complete protein, a study did find that when athletes consumed 48g of rice or whey protein training 3x per week for 8 weeks, there was no difference in the amount of muscle gain for the whey group vs. the brown rice group-meaning that brown rice protein may work just as well for ‘gains’ as whey. In conjunction with a pea protein source, it can provide a complete amino acid profile (a ‘whole’ protein) that can be as effective as dairy or eggs.
  • Rice protein is suitable for vegan athletes, who may have a harder time gaining protein
  • Many find the taste of these vegetarian proteins better than whey hydrolsate, which is notoriously bitter
  • Pea protein is high in lysine, which is a precursor to carnitine (this helps convert fatty acids into energy), as well as helping form collagen, needed for bones, cartilage, skin, and tendons.
  • Another benefit of vegan protein sources is their iron content. While non-heme (plant-sourced) iron is harder for the body to absorb than heme (animal-sourced) iron, if it is mixed with a good source of vitamin C (say, in a fruity smoothie), the body can get a great source of iron for healthy blood and energy production.

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Always make sure that you are getting adequate protein, whatever the activity you or your child is involved in. Brown rice and pea protein are safe, effective, and suitable for most athletes. Be sure to look for protein powders that are free of additives like artificial colours, refined or artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavours; this will allow for the best possible performance and health. 

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