Plant-based protein or whey protein: Which one is better for athletes?

    There is a constant battle between the two. One side of the argument is adamant about plant-based, while the other is strongly pushing for animal-based, or whey, protein. Yet, which one is better and why?

    At Ardoa Organics we focus on plant-based products, and our protein powders are developed with athletic performance in mind. Not only are plant-based products good for the environment, but they are also very good for your body and performance as well. It’s often thought that you can’t improve your performance while eating this way, but that’s been proven wrong. So long as the correct balance of nutrients is in place, you can go above and beyond while using plant-based products and nutrition. 

    So, in this article, we’re going to be talking about protein powders. Specifically, about some of the differences between plant-based and whey protein powders. You’ll be learning about the importance of a balanced amino acid profile, as well as if, why and how plant-based protein powder can be digested properly. In addition, we’ll be talking about some of the downsides to whey protein, and whether it’s really as good as it claims to be. Let’s get into it!

    Why plant-based protein powder?

    Firstly, there are a lot of different plant-based products out there, and not all of them are made the same. In fact, there are some stout differences in each product. Some companies that are looking for big profits may use low quality ingredients that don’t meet the standard for a balanced amino acid profile. 

    Why does this matter? 

    Protein contains amino acids and there are complete and incomplete proteins. The complete proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids:

    • Histidine
    • Isoleucine
    • Leucine
    • Lysine
    • Methionine
    • Phenylalanine
    • Threonine
    • Tryptophan
    • Valine

    Low quality, incomplete proteins are usually missing a few of these. This lowers the ability of that protein to do what it can do in the body. In this case, for an athlete: help recovering from hard, intense workouts. 

    As long as there is a focus on providing all essential amino acids, you can get the full benefit from a plant-based protein powder. This just involves bringing in protein from multiple plant sources. For example, a product from just one plant source may be missing out valuable ingredients. Two plant-based protein sources can make a complete, beneficial protein. 

    This is actually what Ardoa have done with their CrossPro Pea & Hemp protein powder. Not only does it contain all essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, it also contains all of the essential amino acids that you need to fully recover after a strenuous workout. 

    For the person who wants to be plant-based, but also gain an advantage as an athlete, this is designed just for you. The amino acid profile is what matters, and it needs to be perfectly balanced to be effective! 

    What about digestion? 

    Are our bodies able to properly digest protein powders made from plants? The answer is yes, and actually a very loud yes! Plant-based protein powders are often free of allergens and also tend to be gluten-free. They sit well with the body and get absorbed fast. This is highly beneficial for transporting those nutrients to the muscles when it’s time for recovery. 

    Someone with an allergy or sensitivity to lactose or gluten may have poor absorption and even an upset stomach when consuming a product containing these allergens. 

    In addition, you’re getting a maximum amount of nutrients when consuming and digesting plant-based protein powders. Plants have very high vitamin and mineral profiles which will go a long way, providing your body with a source of recovery. 

    Why whey protein powder? 

    Whey protein powder is created from dairy. When cheese is being made, the liquid portion is what is called whey. This is then dehydrated into a powder which delivers a source of straight protein. With that being said, the main source of carbohydrates in whey protein powders (they actually don’t contain much) is lactose. This is a form of sugar that many people can’t tolerate. It can lead to bloating, gas, cramps, and even sometimes diarrhoea. 

    Whey protein does contain all of the essential amino acids on its own, which is the case with all animal protein sources. This is why many people side with an animal-based protein powder. However, that doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for you.

    The negatives of whey protein powder

    Ask yourself these questions: 

    • Is this something that you want to consume for a long time? 
    • Are we even designed to consume that much dairy? 
    • What about the environment?

    This is going to come down to your views and preferences. If you have an intolerance to dairy and continue to take in whey protein, this will cause issues with your gut down the line. It can create chronic inflammation, which could lead to further problems and can also mess with your skin quality. Our gut controls a lot in the body, and if we don’t treat it well, issues will arise. In the end, long-term use of whey protein may not be a good idea for you if your body has a hard time with lactose. If you tolerate it without any issues, then it could be an option for you.

    Whey protein production also has very negative effects on the environment. Dairy farming produces large amounts of greenhouse gases and releases them into the atmosphere. In fact, a recent report published in the Guardian newspaper in the UK stated that the 13 biggest dairy firms in the world produce more greenhouse gases than the entire UK, the world’s sixth largest economy! This is clearly contributing to global warming and is a far cry from the sustainable nature of plant-based products. 

    The summary 

    Weighing up the negatives against the positives, a top quality plant-based protein powder with a balanced and complete amino acid profile is the best option. It’s great for athletes, provides all of the nutrition for recovery, can be digested really well, and is best for the environment!

    Whether you are an ambitious athlete or just interested in a healthy sustainable lifestyle, please do give plant-based products a try and become part of a global movement to better our bodies while helping the planet.

    Blake Conner
    AUTHOR and Ardoa #TeamCrossPro member

    Ingo Bousa 

    Where to buy?

    Go to Ardoa Market UK to buy CrossPro Pea & Hemp Chocolate-Cinnamon or Vanilla protein powder.

    Or, if you live in a European country, please go to Ardoa Market EU to buy CrossPro Pea & Hemp protein powder.

    Read more about why we need protein and why plant-based protein is better for athletic development.

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