Examine reveals that plant-based protein as efficient as whey for muscle mass, power

Data published in Sports Medicine showed that a plant-based diet consisting of whole foods and soy protein isolate supplementation was just as effective as an omnivorous diet consisting of mixed whole foods and whey protein supplementation for building muscle and strength support.

“This suggests that dietary protein source does not affect resistance training-induced adaptations in untrained young men, provided that adequate amounts of protein are consumed,” write the researchers, led by Hamilton Roschel, PhD, of Applied Physiology & Nutrition Research Group at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The study was funded by the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP).

IFF: It gives us a slightly different message about this particular population

The results of the study were welcomed by Barbara Peters, nutritionist, IFF, who supplied the soy protein isolate (formerly DuPont) used in the study.

“The great findings from the USP study help us to understand better in the area of ​​muscle research. Until recently, whey protein was considered the optimal protein. This new research from the university shows that soy protein is just as good for muscle support when supplemented with a plant-based diet. Since a vegan group has the same muscle gains as whey protein, this gives us a slightly different message about that particular population, ”she said.

“With the encouraging results of this new study, it may lead to increased usage in other categories such as nutritional supplements and performance nutrition products with better options for you,” added Peters.

Study details

Dr. Roschel and his employees recruited 38 young men (19 omnivores and 19 vegans, average age = 25) and put them in a supervised strength training program with two weekly training units for three months. The diet of all men was adjusted to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, with the vegans receiving soy protein (SUPRO XT 221D IP, IFF) and the omnivores whey protein (THERMAX 690, Glanbia Nutritionals).

“Previous studies compared the effects of supplementary protein from various sources (vegetable vs. animal) on muscle mass with conflicting results,” the researchers said. “However, these studies looked at adding whey or soy protein supplements to an omnivorous diet, which does not answer the question of how exclusively plant-based vs. omnivorous diets affect muscle adaptations [resistance training]. “

The results of the new study showed that the muscle mass of the legs, the cross-sectional areas of the entire musculature and muscle fibers, and the 1RM of the leg press increased significantly in both groups without any difference between the groups.

The new data “challenges the notion that an exclusively plant-based diet is less efficient than an omnivorous diet in supporting muscle anabolic adaptations to chronic diseases” [resistance training]“Write the researchers.

Potential differences in the availability of essential amino acids between groups were mitigated by eating whole foods such as grains and beans, which may provide “more complete protein” for participants on a plant-based basis.

Dr. Roschel and his co-workers made a cautionary note in their paper that the vegan group needed about 58 grams of extra soy protein per day to achieve the target protein intake, compared to about 41 grams of whey protein per day in the omnivore group.

“Therefore, our results are limited to a vegan diet with a relatively large additional intake of vegetable protein isolate as a practical way to achieve a sufficient total intake (1.6 g kg-1 day 1) when dietary protein is obtained exclusively from vegetable sources.” they declared.

Source: Sports Medicine
2021, Volume 51, Pages 1317-1330. Doi: 10.1007 / s40279-021-01434-9
“Protein-rich, plant-based diets versus a protein-rich, omnivorous diet to support resistance training adjustments: A comparison between habitual vegans and omnivores”
Authors: V. Hevia – Larraín et al.

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