Whey protein vs plant protein? What the studies show...
Whey protein vs plant protein… We get that question very often! Whey protein is known for its benefits in the diet of a sportsman… In this article, we are going to look at the benefits of plant-based proteins vs whey protein based on a global health perspective and on third party clinical studies. We will take a look at different clinical studies that were made on whey protein, rice protein and pea protein and see what these clinical studies reveal. So let’s dive into the subject!
Up to 90% concentrated protein?
First of all, the Nature Zen rice protein used is hypoallergenic, hypotoxic and highly digestible.
It is highly concentrated, (up to 90%) which is due to its extraction process. This is based on germination and then fermentation with enzymes that naturally isolate the protein molecules (there is no treatment with intense solvents). Then a filtration is carried out to recover the vegan protein molecules thanks to the difference in molecular weight. This plant-based protein is perfect for smoothies, drinks or simply added to what you already consume (yogurts, compotes, etc…).
Whey protein vs Plant protein: they tried rice protein for 8 weeks, here are the results:
Rice protein has wonderful health benefits and a clinical study in 2013 looked at this. This study compared 2 groups that trained for 8 weeks. The first group consumed rice protein while the second consumed lactoserum protein.
After 8 weeks, the results were the same for both groups: the researchers noted an increase in muscle mass, a reduction in fatty tissue, an increase in power and strength, as well as very good recovery.
So lactoserum protein has no better effect on the body than rice protein.
From that perspective, the study shows that protein is important for the body regardless of source.
Whey protein VS Plant protein: what about Leucine?
Lactoserum protein is known for its L-Leucine property, which is a key amino acid in muscle mass. However, the same study showed a specificity about its consumption.
Below a certain amount, it is known that protein intake is less effective in terms of muscle mass and recovery. In figure 2, we can see that the green band corresponds to the optimal intake of Leucine for the body. Above this limit, increasing the intake of Leucine is no longer beneficial, and the effect is like “saturation”. Since the beige bands correspond to rice protein and the pink bands to lactoserum protein, it can be seen that at a normal intake of plant-based protein, one is within the optimal intake of Leucine.1
In addition, the L-Leucine in rice protein is absorbed much faster than the L-Leucine in whey protein, which promotes muscle recovery.
Finally, rice protein has been shown to have beneficial effects on reducing bad cholesterol levels and on the acidity of our body. This is because proteins from animal sources contain many more sulphur-containing amino acids than plant-based proteins. When these proteins are broken down by our body, this generates highly acidifying components, which will cause acidification and therefore demineralization. Our body will then use the calcium in the bones as a “buffer” to lower the pH, which in the long term will lead to a weakening of the bone mass.
Rice protein therefore has beneficial properties for our body, but what about pea protein?
The benefits of pea protein
The one we use is a concentrate of organic peas, grown only in North America. This protein is also hypoallergenic and very digestible, contrary to what you might think! Indeed, what can cause digestion problems in peas are the carbohydrates that compose them. The pea protein we use is extracted mechanically, with water, and the centrifugation carried out therefore allows the proteins to be completely isolated from the carbohydrates. In the end, the protein used is therefore very pure and easily digestible.
Pea protein is excellent for smoothies and cooking, as it has a slightly binding effect and can thicken sauces, for example.
Pea protein study
This protein also has health benefits. Clinical studies have shown a greater increase in muscle mass after training compared to the control group taking whey protein, as shown in figure 3. <sup>2 3</sup>
Pea protein also has prebiotic effects and increases basal metabolic rate. It causes a greater feeling of satiety compared to whey and egg protein, which is probably due to its fiber content. In addition, it has a beneficial effect on the reduction of blood pressure and an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effect.
Pea protein therefore also has beneficial effects for our body.
Why consume plant-based proteins vs whey protein?
Through these various studies, we have seen that plant-based proteins have effects as beneficial as lactoserum protein, even better. However, other factors may influence our choice of protein.
First of all, lactoserum protein is composed of lactose, which can be a difficult element to digest as many people are lactose intolerent. Because of the purity of our proteins, they are very digestible and dairy-free.
In addition, Nature Zen organic rice protein is absorbed more quickly than lactoserum protein and its effects last longer.
Finally, our products are chosen ethically, and we want our suppliers to be certified organic and respect the environment.
We have therefore noticed through various clinical studies that plant-based proteins (from rice and peas) are just as beneficial as lactoserum protein, if not more so! A great alternative for our protein sources in our diet!
1. Joy JM, Lowery RP, Wilson JM, Purpura M, De Souza EO, Wilson SM, et al. The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutr J. 20 juin 2013;12:86.
2. Babault N, Païzis C, Deley G, Guérin-Deremaux L, Saniez MH, Lefranc-Millot C, et al. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 21 janv 2015;12:3.
3. M P, Rp L, Jm J, Eo DS, Ds K, R J, et al. A Comparison of Blood Amino Acid Concentrations Following Ingestion of Rice and Whey Protein Isolate A Double-Blind Crossover Study. Journal of Nutrition and Health Sciences [Internet]. nov 2014 [cité 16 juin 2022];1(3). Disponible sur: http://www.annexpublishers.com/full-text/JNH/306/A-Comparison-of-Blood-Amino-Acid-Concentrations-Following-Ingestion-of-Rice-and-Whey-Protein-Isolate-A-Double-Blind-Crossover-Study.php