Why Does Pea Protein Hurt My Stomach? – The Unexpected Link

Have you been feeling a little off after using pea protein? Tummy ache and such?

You’re not alone! Many of you fellow gym-goers have asked, “Why does pea protein hurt my stomach?” 

And while it may not look like a valid concern at first glance, we all know that things aren’t always as they seem.

So, let’s figure it out. Together.

Quick Answer: Why Does Pea Protein Hurt My Stomach?

The most common reason why pea protein may hurt your stomach is due to an intolerance to lectins or an allergy to the protein source. 

However, it’s not that simple! 

There could be several other factors at play, such as the manufacturing process, the quality of the product, how much protein you’ve taken, or individual digestive differences

That said, let’s dive in and explore all the possible reasons why pea protein is hurting you.

Is Pea Protein Known to Cause Stomach Issues?

No, pea protein is not known to cause stomach issues.

Pea protein is generally considered easy on the stomach and is even recommended for people with digestive sensitivities

In fact, most people who have a hard time digesting animal-based proteins actually turn to pea protein (even though you’ll later see that animal-based proteins are actually easier to digest).

The reason for this lies in the manufacturing process.

The way pea protein is made is by grinding yellow peas into a fine powder.

Then, during the manufacturing process, starch and lectins are removed from the equation, leaving you with virtually 100% pure protein and an overall mild product. 

However, some people may still experience stomach issues, and if that’s the case, it’s as we’ve said –  it’s either due to trace amounts of lectins or an allergy to peas.

Is Pea Protein Powder Hard to Digest?

No, pea protein powder is not hard to digest.

While animal proteins are generally easier to digest, pea protein is right up there with the best of them.

In fact, studies show that pea protein trails only soy and chickpea protein on the list of “easiest-to-digest plant-based” proteins. [1]

What you’ll also see if you take a look at that study is that this was determined using PDCAAS.

PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score) is a method of assessing the quality and bioavailability of the said protein. And, with a score of 0.93, pea protein ranks very high on this list.

In other words, pea protein is easily digested and absorbed by the body.

What to Do if You’re Experiencing Stomach Problems While Using Pea Protein

If you’re experiencing stomach problems while using pea protein, the first step is determining if you are intolerant to a certain compound or allergic to peas. 

You can do this by keeping a food diary and avoiding pea protein for a few weeks, then reintroducing it and monitoring your symptoms.

If your symptoms come back or don’t go away at all, instead of relying on advice from some guy on the internet, go see a doctor or a registered dietitian.

Also, it’s absolutely paramount to use a high-quality pea protein powder in the first place. A bad product will lead to bad things.

If you’re having stomach problems, try giving hydrolyzed pea protein a shot, it’s more thoroughly filtered than your regular pea protein to get rid of any extra lectins.

In addition to all that, please be mindful of the dose and potential interactions with other supplements or medications. The discomfort could be there simply because you’re not using the product the way you’re supposed to.

Alternatives to Pea Protein for Those Experiencing Stomach Problems

If you find that pea protein isn’t agreeing with your stomach, there are alternative protein sources you can try. 

  • Whey protein is arguably the best choice, but it’s not suitable for those who are lactose intolerant or those leading a vegan lifestyle. But, from a digestive standpoint – it doesn’t get any better than this.
  • Egg white protein is another animal protein that’s good for your muscles and your stomach. [2]
  • Hemp protein is a stellar option if you want to remain plant-based. Just like the previous two, this one’s also a complete protein, fueling your muscles with all the necessary amino acids.

But the best piece of advice we could give you is to just try things out after speaking to a professional. 

Blindly trying out new products until you eventually strike gold right is not the best approach. 

And that’s putting it mildly.

Other Dietary Fixes to Help with Stomach Problems

In addition to switching to a different protein source, other dietary fixes can help TREMENDOUSLY with stomach problems. 

  • Eating slowly, chewing your food well, avoiding large meals, and limiting high-fat/high-carb and spicy foods can all help improve digestion and reduce discomfort. 
  • Staying hydrated is important for overall digestive health. Water will also flush out any impurities that may be causing discomfort.
  • Drinking herbal teas, such as ginger or peppermint, can also soothe an upset stomach.
  • Foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut (if you haven’t tried it – try it!) contain beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that will improve gut health and potentially soothe your aches.
  • Adding fiber to your diet will keep the digestive system working like a well-oiled machine, so don’t forget your fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
  • Cut down on caffeine and alcohol, as both of these can severely irriate your stomach.

Conclusion

Yes, pea protein can be a great option for those who are looking for a plant-based protein source, but for some, it may cause stomach problems.

It’s not common, but it could happen.

So, if you’re experiencing discomfort or pain, try some other protein sources, maintain a healthy diet, and if you don’t see any improvement – go pay a doc a visit.

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