Whey vs Plant Protein
14 min read

Whey vs Plant Protein: Which Should You Choose?

Author_Maya-Bain Clean Lean Protein Diet & Nutrition Education Product_clean-lean-protein whey

Are you struggling to find the right protein supplement for your journey to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle? With so many options out there, it certainly can be tough to make an educated decision. Two popular types of protein supplement types in the marketplace today are whey and vegan-friendly, plant-based proteins such as pea protein. If you are considering boththe great whey vs plant protein debatebut can’t decide what is right for you, then you’ve come to the right place.

Table of Contents

How are Whey Protein Powders and Plant-Based Powders Made?

Whey protein is made via the draining of liquid milk through a filtration system. The material that is left after this draining process is known as whey protein concentrate, and is dried to form a variety of protein supplements you see on supermarket shelves. This concentrate contains varying degrees of the disaccharide lactosethe sugar present in milkwhich contributes to the wide range of total calorie amounts in whey protein supplements.

Plant-based proteins are made in a variety of ways depending on the crop from which they are sourced. For example, pea protein is produced by the extraction of soluble pea protein from yellow split peas, followed by drying and rehydration of the produced pea flour. Pea protein is plant-based, suitable for vegans, and those with gluten or dairy intolerances.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing whey or pea protein supplements for your diet:

1. Sustainability

Utilizing plant-based proteins instead of animal proteins is the more sustainable option. Most people don’t realize the extent to which land is harmed in the production of meat proteins. In fact, an article¹ released by Roquette reveals how the land requirements for animal protein production are 10 times greater than that required for plant-based proteins.

The amount of energy required for animal production has heavily contributed to pollution and global warming via deforestation, overgrazing, and overfishing. Therefore, you can see how choosing plant- based proteins such as Nuzest’s Golden Pea Protein, may significantly help to promote sustainability for ourselves and future generations.

2. Amino Acids

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, our bodies require that we consume all nine essential amino acids in our diets. Both animal- and plant-based protein supplements contribute to meeting one’s daily recommendations for amino acid consumption.

This is especially crucial when it comes to refueling post-workout. Consuming protein from either plant-based or animal sources post-workout promotes the repair and strength of muscle and body tissues. Whey protein in particular provides high levels of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), which our bodies utilize to strengthen lean muscle tissue both during and after exercise sessions. Whey protein is also a valuable source of leucine, an essential amino acid that is crucial to muscle protein synthesis and growth.

Pea protein provides an array of essential amino acids as well, most commonly isoleucine, valine, arginine, and lysine. Clean Lean Protein, a high-quality, premium golden pea protein isolate is a 100% vegan protein that contains all the essential amino acids. Choosing either whey protein or vegan pea protein will provide your body with the essential amino acids it needs to support the restoration of muscles after a workout along with a healthy lifestyle! 

3. Calories

Protein supplements can vary tremendously when it comes to calorie content. This is due, in part, to the additives and fillers that companies add to their products in order to give consumers the desired taste and level of sweetness.

We use only premium European Golden Peas in our plant-based protein powders. Visit our Clean Lean Protein page for uses, customer reviews, and nutrition information.

In general, plant-based and vegan proteins tend to be lower in calories per serving than animal-based protein supplements. Nuzest’s Golden Pea Protein has approximately 90 calories per serving, whereas a typical serving of whey protein has between 100 and 150 calories per serving.

4. Absorption and Digestibility

Whey protein can be difficult for many people to digest. This is shown through side effects such as abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue. However, plant-based protein is known to be easier on our digestive symptom due to the absence of milk-derived ingredients. Nuzest’s pea protein has a 98% digestibility rating, making it an ideal option for fueling one’s body throughout the day without having to worry about digestive complications.

5. Vegan, Gluten-Free, Lactose Intolerant?

For anyone following a vegan diet, facing gluten sensitivities or having to steer clear of lactose, a pea protein supplement is an ideal option for you! Clean Lean Protein by Nuzest is free from animal products and byproducts and is a 100% plant-based protein. It also contains no gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, or eggs. It is even free of fillers, additives, and preservatives!

Whey protein, on the other hand, is animal based, as lactose from dairy milk is used as the base to form the whey protein concentrate. Thus, individuals who are plant based, vegan, or lactose intolerant should avoid using whey protein supplements.

So, What Should You Pick: Animal or Plant-Based Protein?

Overall, many factors play into deciding which type of protein powder is right for you. We are all on our own journeys in life, with different goals in mind when it comes to our health and wellness. By comparing the above advantages and disadvantages of plant-based and animal-based protein supplements (such as whey), you can find a protein supplement that will help you on your journey!

Why We Chose Peas

We are often asked why we chose pea protein for our Clean Lean Protein. Why would we choose a pea when there are so many other protein supplements on the market? Why not whey?

The misconception that protein is only present in animal products is still a cause for confusion, however with plant-based diets booming, the myth that plants cannot possibly provide comprehensive nutrition, is slowly fading.

Whey is an animal protein isolated from milk and makes up about 20% of milk protein. Whey and casein are by-products of cheese production, where enzymes added to the milk cause it to separate into curds of casein and liquid whey. The liquid whey is then stripped of minerals, fats, and carbohydrates. The liquid whey concentrate is then spray dried with hot and cold air to become whey protein powder.  

Whey protein is the leading household favorite, but for many years now pea protein has contested for the top spot; boasting a host of benefits that support our health and the health of the planet. Compared to pea protein, animal sources, such as whey protein, use more water and require more than 80% more land required to produce the same amount of plant protein sources. They put nitrogen back into the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer. The nutritional and environmental benefits of the pea have, unfortunately, been largely forgotten in our modern world. 

Benefits of Pea Protein

When we think of a pea, we think green! However, pea protein is produced via the extraction of soluble pea protein from yellow split peas, followed by drying and rehydration of the produced pea flour. This process allows the retention of the natural vitamins, minerals and nutrients present, so we don’t miss out on the goodness of the pea.

Pea protein is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, which cannot be synthesized by the body, and so must be obtained from our diet. These are beneficial for in supporting the repair of exercise-induced muscle damage, promoting muscle-protein synthesis, and regulation of mood and sleep.

Though whey is also a complete protein and holds the same benefits, pea protein actually contains 3 times more Arginine (an essential amino acid) than whey protein. Arginine has said to contribute to blood flow, aid recovery time and boost the immune system, so plenty of this is a truly good thing!!

Vegetables, like peas, have a false reputation of leaving you hungry for more, and though pea protein holds less calories (~90 kcal) than whey protein (~100-150 kcal), it is still 80-90% protein. Protein is known as a hunger buster, it reduces the level of ghrelin in your body (the hunger hormone), and boosts the satiety hormone, Peptide YY. But hey, if you’re still peckish after your serving of pea protein, why not try a nutritious smoothie with Clean Lean Protein!

Why have whey when its consumption is limited to only a fraction of the population? For individuals who can’t consume animal protein due to dietary requirements, preferences, or intolerances, pea protein is a great alternative! As lactose from dairy milk is used as the base to form the whey protein concentrate, individuals who are plant based, vegan, or lactose-intolerant should avoid using whey protein supplements. Pea protein is suitable for many diets and anyone from busy parents to athletes. Whey protein can be difficult for some people to digest due to the presence of milk-derived ingredients. Pea protein can be absorbed by the gut wall, making it an ideal option for fueling your body with less worry about possible digestive complications. This is also beneficial for athletes who consume pea protein before and during exercise, and even for the commuter who is always pushed for time in the mornings...pea protein promotes so many benefits! 

Pea Protein in Action 

Clean Lean Protein by Nuzest is arguably the highest quality and best tasting plant-based protein on the planet. Our Clean Lean Protein is made with 100% European Golden Pea Protein isolate. The high quality is reflected through the high percentage of protein (90%), as well as the removal of almost all anti-nutritional factors, including Lectins and Phytates.

Put simply, our protein is completely natural, containing only natural flavors. No artificial flavors, no fillers, preservatives, emulsifiers, gums or other processing aids. Clean Lean Protein is…

  • 100% Plant Based; completely Vegan
  • High in protein including BCAAs and Glutamine
  • A complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids
  • Low in fat
  • Low sugar profile with no added sugars (not a low calorie food though!)
  • Highly digestible (98%)
  • Alkaline
  • Free from common allergens
  • Free from lectins
  • Free from GMOs

We believe the golden pea is the future for good health and well-being! If you’re looking for a high-quality protein that is plant-based, you are in the right place.


  1. http://www.roquette-food.com/white-papers/benefits-of-vegetable-proteins-for-athletes-and-active-adults/