Interested in the pea protein amino acid profile? I was too; I wrote this page after researching how pea protein compared to official recommendations for protein intake and other typical protein sources. Keep reading to find out how pea protein stacks up, based on real science not bro science.
Refresher on protein and amino acids
Protein is a macro-nutrient which means it is one of the main nutrient groups in our diet that we need to survive, like carbohydrates and lipids (fats).
Whether you munch meat, only dabble with dairy, or execute an exclusively plant-based diet, the protein in your diet comprises the same constituent parts – amino acids. All proteins are made up of amino acids, it’s just the ratio of amino acids that varies between different protein sources.
When eating and digesting, proteins are broken down into amino acids and used throughout the body. Your body requires 21 types of amino acid to function correctly. But 12 of these acids can be produced by the body itself, leaving 9 that must be obtained from dietary sources. These 9 acids are called essential amino acids (EAAs). If a protein contains sufficient amounts of all 9 EAAs, we call it a ‘complete protein’.
When we talk about an amino acid profile, we simply mean how much of each amino acid is contained in a standard amount of that protein source.
What does a typical amino acid profile look like?
Using the World Health Organisation’s paper, ‘Protein and amino acid requirements in human nutrition’, we can see what a typical profile looks like.
The WHO provides a recommendation on what on average the ideal protein should contain per 100g, based on the body’s requirements.
As you can see in the following table, the essential amino acids (EAAs) are on the left, and the amount of each one required in g per 100g of protein is shown on the right. This gives us an example of an amino acid profile, and can be seen visually in the graph below the table.
|Essential amino acid type (EAAs)||WHO guide EAA content g/100g|
Pea protein amino acid profile
Using 8 independent sources for information on typical pea protein amino acid compositions (shown in references below), I calculated the following table and graph, which shows an average pea protein amino acid profile.
|Essential amino acid type||Pea protein EAA average g/100g|
In a complementary article, ‘Is pea protein complete’, I consider whether pea protein is a complete protein. Check it out if you’re interested. The short answer – it is.
Pea protein amino acid profile compared to world health recommendations
Below we compare the world health organisation’s typical amino acid profile with an average profile for pea protein.
You can see that pea protein contains all essential amino acids, however is deficient in methionine. If you eat pea protein as your main dietary source of protein, you should ensure that you have other dietary sources of methionine.
Information sources regarding pea protein amino acid composition: