What’s Better Whey Protein Vs Plant-based Protein?

What’s Better Whey Protein Vs Plant-based Protein

The basic difference between plant-based protein and whey protein lies in their source of extraction. While whey protein is derived from animals (milk), plant-based proteins are extracted from different parts of plants. 

People often consume protein as a supplement in the form of protein powder. Whether you choose plant-based protein or whey protein depends upon your individual preference and some more factors that we’ll discuss in this article.

Let’s do a comparison between plant-based protein vs. whey protein.

Difference Between Plant-based Protein And Whey Protein

protein vs plant protein

Plant-based protein and whey protein powder can be differentiated on the basis of how they are made, what their protein content is, how well they are digestible, and their cost. 

Let’s discuss each aspect in detail.

1. How Are They Made?

  • Whey Protein Powders: Whey is the protein obtained as a byproduct of milk. Often, it is collected while making cheese. Later, fats, carbohydrates, and water are removed from the whey and dried in the form of powder (1). Usually, whey protein is obtained from cow’s milk; therefore, it contains milk sugar and lactose. 
  • Plant-based protein powders: As the name indicates, these powders are obtained from plants that are a rich source of amino acids. Peas, soy, brown rice, and hemp are often used for extracting protein. These protein powders lack lactose, thus making them suitable for lactose-intolerant and vegan people. 

2. What’s Their Protein Content?

  • Whey Protein: The protein content in both whey and plant-based protein is almost the same- 20 to 30 g per serving. However, when it comes to a complete set of nine amino acids, whey protein secures more points. Additionally, it contains branch-chain amino acids such as leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are believed to build muscles (2).
  • Plant-based Protein: The amino acids present in plant-based protein depend upon which plant is used for protein extraction. Other than soy, none of the plants contain all nine amino acids (3). 

It is the reason why most plant-based protein powders contain a combination of different plants so that users can reap the benefits of all at a time. 

3. How Well Are They Digested? 

People with food sensitivity should take note of every ingredient present in the protein powder before purchasing. It will prevent them from getting digestive issues and allergies. 

  • Whey Protein: Those who are lactose intolerant should avoid using protein to prevent common issues such as gas, bloating, upset stomach, etc.
  • Plant-based Protein: Those who are intolerant to gluten and soy should read the labels carefully to rule out the possibility of these allergens in their protein powder. Likewise, some people are intolerant to pea protein and may suffer from stomach ache and gas. 

So, choose the right protein powder to escape such health uncertainties later. 

4. Cost

Lastly, the price can make a difference when you are choosing between plant-based and why protein. If you are okay with any type of protein powder, you can find a wide range of them in both categories.

However, those with food allergies and intolerance may find their powder to be slightly on the costlier side. Likewise, those marketed as organic, keto, or paleo are also priced higher. 

Here’s a detailed differentiation between plant-based protein and whey protein-

AspectPlant-Based ProteinWhey Protein
SourceDerived from plants such as peas, soy, hemp, or rice.Derived from milk during the cheese-making process.
Protein Content15-25 grams per serving.20-30 grams per serving.
Amino Acid ProfileMay lack certain essential amino acids, but can be complemented with a variety of plant sources for a complete profile.Provides a complete amino acid profile, including all essential amino acids.
DigestibilityGenerally easier to digest for individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.Easily digestible for most people, but may cause digestive discomfort for some individuals, particularly those with lactose intolerance.
Absorption RateTypically absorbed more slowly than whey protein.Rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, making it ideal for post-workout recovery.
AllergensNot suitable for individuals with gluten and soy food allergiesNot suitable for individuals with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance.
SustainabilitySupports sustainable agriculture practices and reduces reliance on animal products.May contribute to environmental concerns related to intensive dairy farming.
Taste and TextureCan vary depending on the source and processing, but often has a neutral or earthy flavor.Typically has a creamy texture and neutral flavor, although flavored options are available.
PriceCan vary depending on the source and processing, but often comparable to whey protein.May be more expensive than plant-based protein due to production costs and demand.

Conclusion 

What’s better- plant-based protein vs. whey protein?

Protein is the building block of the body. Consuming it from either a plant or animal source will benefit the body in multiple ways. However, when it comes to choosing between the two, the selection goes down to individual choices. 

Those who are vegan often go for plant-based protein rather than animal-based. Likewise, those with some food intolerance or food allergy prefer products that are easy to digest. 

However, if you are just looking for more protein content per serving, whey protein powder will always be the right choice. Firstly, because it serves more per scoop and secondly, because it contains all 9 sets of amino acids. 

References 

  1. National Library Of Medicine – Preparation and Characterization of Whey Protein-Based Polymers Produced from Residual Dairy Streams
  2. National Library Of Medicine – Effects of Whey Protein Alone or as Part of a Multi-ingredient Formulation on Strength, Fat-Free Mass, or Lean Body Mass in Resistance-Trained Individuals: A Meta-analysis
  3. National Library Of Medicine – Protein content and amino acid composition of commercially available plant-based protein isolates

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