Guide to Whey Protein vs. Pea Protein for Bodybuilding

Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, so it’s important to choose the right one.

Whey is a popular choice among bodybuilders because it’s high in quality protein and easy to digest. But pea protein is becoming increasingly popular because it’s low in fat and carbs, high in fiber, and is also vegan.

So which one should you choose?

Let’s find out.

What is Whey Protein Powder?

Whey protein powder is a type of dietary supplement made from the liquid portion of milk that remains after the solid curds have been removed to make cheese.

It is an easily digestible and absorbable (fast-absorbing) source of complete proteins, containing all nine essential amino acids, making it one of the best choices for bodybuilding.

It comes in three main varieties: isolate, concentrate, and hydrolysate.

Out of the three, isolate is the most popular form of whey protein, with a high protein content and very low levels of fat and lactose.

What is Pea Protein Powder?

Pea protein powder is a plant-based alternative to animal-derived proteins such as whey. It is made from grinding peas into a fine powder and extracting the protein using a process called fractionation.

Just like whey protein, pea protein is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. It is also low in fat and calories but is richer in fiber and vegan-friendly.

Another thing pea protein powder has going for it is its high levels of iron. As you might know, iron deficiency is present in around 30% of the world’s population, and just two scoops of this protein would satisfy your need for daily iron intake.

Whey Protein Powder Benefits

As we said, whey protein contains all nine essential amino acids and is highly bioavailable, meaning it is rapidly absorbed into the body and quickly utilized for muscle growth. Additionally, whey has been linked to improved strength gains and enhanced recovery after exercise.

Beyond its ability to build muscle, whey offers numerous health benefits as well.

It has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.

Whey also contains high levels of lactoferrin, an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation in the body, and naturally occurring immunoglobulins that may strengthen the immune system. [1]

In addition to providing essential macronutrients, whey also has a number of other beneficial compounds, including calcium, phosphorus, and BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids).

Calcium is important for strong bones and teeth, while phosphorus aids in energy production and supports enzyme functions within cells.

The BCAAs are essential for muscle growth as they can aid in muscle repair following workouts or physical activity by reducing muscular damage, and since they’re abundant in whey protein powder, there’s no need to supplement with BCAAs separately.

Pea Protein Powder Benefits

Just like whey protein, pea protein is a very effective supplement in a muscle-building program. It is a fast-absorbing, plant-based protein that is a good source of essential amino acids and minerals.

One of the main benefits of pea protein powder (aside from iron) is its higher fiber content compared to whey. High-fiber diets have been linked to weight loss, improved digestion, and better overall health.

However, it’s important to note that pea protein powder’s fiber content isn’t enough to satisfy your daily needs. You’d need to consume other high-fiber foods as well.

Pea protein also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

In fact, pea protein is linked with improved blood sugar control, making it an excellent alternative for those with diabetes. [2]

Can You Build Muscle with Pea Protein?

Yes, it is possible to build muscle with pea protein.

In fact, last year’s study unequivocally proved that there were no observable differences between participants using whey protein compared to those using pea protein in terms of muscle growth.

In other words, as long as you eat right and train hard – there shouldn’t be any noticeable differences between the two.

Is Pea Protein Safer Than Whey?

Since pea protein is gluten and lactose-free, it is generally considered “safer” than whey protein, as those with allergies or sensitivities to those particular compounds can easily eliminate these allergens from their diets.

At the same time, pea allergy, although not very common, is a possibility.

Pea Protein vs. Whey Protein – Which is Better for Bodybuilders?

Since the evidence suggests that the results from either protein source are virtually identical, it really comes down to personal preference and cost-effectiveness.

Do you want something that is more natural and vegan-friendly? You go the pea protein route.

Do you want something with higher protein content per gram and an overall lower cost? You should stick with whey protein.

Ultimately, the decision is yours – and as long as you get enough of both macronutrients and micronutrients, you can achieve your bodybuilding goals regardless of which of the two you use.

Is it Better to Drink Plant-Based Protein or Whey Protein?

Aside from veganism, there is no clear answer as to which is better to consume.

Some could say that whey is better because it contains more methionine than pea protein, but then again, that’s just nitpicking.

You could also argue that because whey has a higher PDCAAS or protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (1 to 0.93), it is, therefore, better than pea protein.

One could also make a case in favor of whey in terms of cost-effectiveness if we consider actual protein content per gram of powder. But then again, pricing greatly varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and how much of a difference it would make would depend on the product you’re looking at.

However, from a bodybuilding perspective – there are no major differences. If we focus on the results and results only, not one of these will help you reach your goals faster or make you look better than the other.

All things considered, I guess it is possible to crown whey as a better choice, but only by a small margin.


Overall, pea protein powder is a great alternative to whey if you want a vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and lactose-free supplement. It has the same muscle-building capabilities as whey while also supplying you with a generous amount of iron.

But at the end of the day, there really isn’t a reason compelling enough to say, “Hey, use this one!”

We’ve outlined the differences between the two, and now it’s up to you to decide which one suits you best.

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