The Fitness Zone

Animal vs Plant Protein: Which Should You Choose?

Nov 09, 2022 | by Nuzest

Protein is found throughout the body—in muscles, bones, skin and hair. It makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions in the body, and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. Protein is key to building muscles and maintaining a strong immune system. It can also be used as a source of energy, which is why athletes and those who exercise frequently require higher amounts of protein in their diet.

Whilst most people are considered to have an adequate protein intake (according to the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of 0.74-0.84g/kg/day), this level of consumption is a minimum requirement and does not take into account individual needs. Individuals engaging in high levels of exercise alone should be consuming at least 85% more protein than the RDI, which equates to between 90g and 126g of protein per day for females and males. For those who are simply looking to manage their weight, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) recommends at least 25g of protein with every meal.

A protein supplement is a convenient addition to a diet and may be beneficial in supporting a healthy lifestyle. Two popular types of protein supplements on the market are animal (whey) proteins and plant-based proteins, such as pea. Nuzest nutritionist, Lauren Parchi, deciphers the differences between the two proteins, to help you choose the right supplement to suit your goals.


Plant-based proteins are typically the more sustainable option compared to animal proteins. Land requirements for animal protein production are 10 times greater than that required for plant-based proteins. The amount of energy and resources required for animal production also contributes to the disruption of the environment through deforestation, pollution and overgrazing. “To promote sustainability for future generations, choosing a plant-based protein such as Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein, which uses peas as its protein source is the best option,” says Lauren. Peas are classified as a sustainable crop, as they use less land and water in the growing and processing stages and add vital nutrients such as nitrogen back into the soil.

Amino Acids

To maintain optimal health and vitality, we must consume all nine essential amino acids (EAAs) in our diet as these cannot be made by the body. This is especially crucial when it comes to refueling post-workout. Both whey protein and pea protein supplements provide the EAAs in varying amounts and promote the repair and growth of muscles.

Whey protein provides high levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are made up of leucine, isoleucine and valine. These are used in the body to strengthen lean muscle tissue both during and after exercise sessions and have beneficial effects on reducing delayed onset muscle soreness associated with exercise-induced muscle damage.

Choosing either whey or pea protein will provide the body with the essential amino acids it needs to support the repair and growth of muscles after a workout.


Protein supplements can vary tremendously when it comes to caloric (energy) content. This is due in part, to the additives and fillers that are added to create the desired texture, taste and level of sweetness. Additionally, animal proteins are generally more nutrient dense (due to a higher fat content) compared to plant proteins. For these reasons, plant-based proteins tend to be lower in calories per serving than animal-based protein supplements. Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein contains between 99-107 calories per serving.

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Lactose Intolerant?

There has been a large increase in the number of people moving towards a plant-based diet for health and/or ethical reasons. The rise of allergies and intolerances has also led many people to follow a gluten or lactose free diet. Plant protein supplements offer a universal solution and are suitable in nearly all diets. Whilst most whey proteins are gluten-free, they are not suitable for a plant-based diet and contain lactose.

Absorption and Digestibility

Whey protein can be difficult for many people to digest due to the lactose content, with side effects such as abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue. Plant-based proteins have a higher digestibility rating due to the absence of milk-derived ingredients and high-quality processing.

There are many factors to consider when deciding which type of protein supplement is right for you. Lauren adds, “We are all on our own health journeys, with different goals in mind when it comes to our health and wellness. By comparing the available information on plant-based and animal-based protein supplements, you can find the right protein supplement to support your needs and goals.”

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[1]  Jäger, R., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. I., Cribb, P. J., Wells, S. D., Skwiat, T. M., Purpura, M., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Ferrando, A. A., Arent, S. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Arciero, P. J., Ormsbee, M. J., Taylor, L. W., Wilborn, C. D., Kalman, D. S., Kreider, R. B., Willoughby, D. S., Antonio, J. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 14(1).

[2] Noakes M. Protein Balance: New Concepts for Protein in Weight Management; CSIRO, Australia. 2018. CSIRO Research Publications Repository – New Concepts for Protein in Weight Management

[3] Roquette, (n.d.). Resources. Retrieved from

[4] Fedewa, M. V., Spencer, S. O., Williams, T. D., Becker, Z. E., Fuqua, C. A. (2019). Effect of branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation on Muscle Soreness following Exercise: A Meta-Analysis. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 89(5-6);348-356. DOI: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000543.



Nuzest specialises in Australian premium plant based nutritional supplements, designed to give your body what it needs to stay healthy and active. Over 10 years of research, experience and knowledge has gone into creating our products. Health-conscious humans all over the world look to Nuzest to support their daily nutrition.

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