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Pea Protein May Build Muscle as Efficiently as Whey Protein

Protein is often recommended for weight training and other resistance exercise in order to build muscle faster. A recent study suggests that pea protein may result in the same level of muscle synthesis in bicep muscle thickness as that seen with whey protein.

Participants in the study included 161 young men who took part in one of three interventions: 25 g whey protein, 25 g pea protein, or a placebo twice daily for 12 weeks. All the participants also undertook 12 weeks of resistance training.  At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted improvements in all three groups as a result of the resistance training but no clear difference based on protein intake.

However, when the researchers looked specifically at the weakest members of each group, they found that the pea protein group had increases in bicep muscle thickness of 20.2%, compared to only 8.6% in the placebo group. The whey protein group had increases of 15.6%. There was no statistical difference between the whey and pea protein groups.

The researchers believe that pea protein could be a viable alternative for people with allergies to whey protein or food restrictions that still want the muscle synthesis benefits of protein.

Researchers from the National Institute for Health and Medical Research in France conducted the study. It was published on January 21, 2015, in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Pea protein is rich in a range of amino acids, including lysine, arginine and branched chain amino acids. It is considered to be the richest source of arginine, which is recommended for sports nutrition. 

People looking to increase their pea protein intake for exercise reasons should consider taking a pea protein supplement, as the amount needed could be difficult to obtain from food alone.

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