What’s the difference between dairy and plant proteins?

You only need a quick check online and it seems there is an overwhelming mountain of information and products available in the nutrition world.  We seem to have so many options, and are bombarded with info at every turn when it comes to endurance nutrition.

Here at Bindi, we spend a lot of time at events just talking to our customers and we get to know exactly what your questions and concerns are.  It seems that people commonly get confused about proteins, and have a lot of queries.

Most recently, someone asked me “What’s the difference between dairy and vegan proteins – aren’t they essentially the same?” Well, here I’m going to fill you in on the two, and explain the differences so you can choose the best protein that suits you.

1. Let’s Start With The Basics:  Simply put, you need a good quality serve of protein (up to 25g), combined with carbohydrates in your post training recovery window.  Both animal or plant protein will fill the recovery gap in a similar way, and have the same positive effect on muscle growth. Neither source is proven to be superior for muscle growth and recovery. 

2. Amino Acids – Your Building Blocks:  Animal proteins are classed as ‘complete’ because they provide all the essential amino acids that are required as building blocks for protein in your body.  Plant proteins are ‘incomplete’ as none of them contain all the amino acids in one source.  However by eating a range of proteins throughout the day, you can get all the amino acids your body requires. Every single meal or protein source doesn’t need to be balanced and complete – in fact this is near impossible! 

3. Digestability: Dairy products are one of the world’s leading causes of food allergies, so beware of symptoms of diarrhoea, constipation and fatigue if you are using a whey protein.  Pea protein is gluten and dairy free and so is easy to absorb, gentle on your gut and unlikely to make you bloated or gassy. 

4. Controlling Appetite: If you are training hard, there is a good chance you are conscious about your weight, and are often hungry too!  Plant proteins sources like pea protein contain peptides that delay the emptying of your stomach to help you feel full for longer, and in turn support weight loss. 

5. Consistency: There isn’t any science on this, but the general consensus is that a gritty protein that is hard to mix is one that you will use less often, simply because you don’t enjoy it.  All proteins and brands can vary; our Bindi protein is known to mix quickly and smoothly with water, milks or in smoothies with a great texture.

6. Flavour: This is very individual for athletes and varies dramatically between brands.  Neither pea or whey protein has a distinct or overpowering taste if it is mixed with great natural flavours. Basically, don’t be put off by the thought of peas, and make sure you try a sample before you buy a big bag or tub of any type of protein. (We stick with the favourites: chocolate and vanilla, and always provide samples)

7. Chronic Disease and Protein: The research shows that intake over time of plant-based proteins rather than animal-based proteins, decreases the risk of coronary artery disease. Plant proteins may help to lower blood pressure and are less likely to cause inflammation in the body, whereas animal proteins have shown to play a potential role in the development of some cancers.  

So to wrap it up, animal proteins will result in muscle growth and are a complete source of protein.  Plant proteins on the other hand will result in similar muscle growth, but are easier to digest, will keep you fuller for longer and are less likely to cause inflammation and chronic disease. The flavour and consistency is your choice, though I personally have been using plant proteins for years now and find them a perfect supplement for my busy vegetarian and sporty lifestyle.  

What do you prefer, and what works for you?  I would love to hear your thoughts too… 

Happy training!


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