Pea Protein Amino Acid Profile

P

The following graph shows a the typical amino acid profile of pea protein. Essential amino acids have a little asterisk next to their names.

This graph was generated using our amino acid profile comparison tool.

pea protein amino acid profile

(Data Source)

It might be easier to read in table form with just the amino acids.

The “complete protein” column shows you the minimum percent of total protein a specific essential amino acid should be (taken from Wikipedia). The “pea protein” column shows you the percent of total protein that there is of each amino acid in pea protein.

  Complete Protein (min %) Pea protein (%)
Histidine 1.8 2.5
Isoleucine 2.5 4.8
Leucine 5.5 8.5
Lysine 5.1 7.5
Methionine+Cysteine 2.5 1.9
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine 4.7 5.5
Threonine 2.7 3.7
Tryptophan 0.7 1
Valine 3.2 5

Pea protein exceeds the minimum for all of the essential amino acids except for methionine/cysteine, although it’s not short by much.

Therefore, pea protein is not a complete protein. This isn’t a huge deal since no one eats 100% of their protein in the form of pea protein, but something to be aware of.

SUMMARY

Pea protein has a great amino acid profile, that’s why it’s the most popular protein source in vegan protein powders.

Pea Protein vs Whey Protein: Amino Acid Comparison

We can compare it to whey protein’s amino acid profile to see how they stack up. They’re pretty similar except for a few differences.

  Complete Protein (min %) Pea protein (%) Whey protein (%)
Histidine 1.8 2.5 1.7
Isoleucine 2.5 4.8 6.4
Leucine 5.5 8.5 10.6
Lysine 5.1 7.5 9.6
Methionine+Cysteine 2.5 1.9 4.4
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine 4.7 5.5 5.6
Threonine 2.7 3.7 6.7
Tryptophan 0.7 1 1.4
Valine 3.2 5 5.9

You can see why whey protein is the gold standard of protein powders. It easily exceeds the minimum needed to be a complete protein in all categories except histidine.

Even though whey protein in the table above is 0.1% shy on histidine, almost everyone would say that whey is a complete protein. That small difference can be explained by rounding errors, and the amount will change slightly based on the sample used.

Compared to whey protein, pea protein is relatively:

  • High in arginine
  • High in glycine
  • High in phenylalanine
  • Low in methionine* and cysteine
  • Slightly low in leucine*, isoleucine*, and lysine*

Peas are lower in those 3 essential amino acids, but if you look at the chart or table, you can see that it’s by a very small amount.

Pea protein is very comparable to whey protein’s amino acid profile when you look at the overall amino acid profile.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

Add comment