Animal protein better than plant protein for building muscle, study finds
Plant-based diets are all the rage right now, but are they really as good for building muscle?
The number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled in the last fifteen years, with over 600,000 people now living a plant-based lifestyle away from animal protein.
This trend has also made its way into the sporting arena.
The Game Changers documentary featured a number of high-level vegan and vegetarian athletes, and made the claim that you don't need meat to build muscle.
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger said he'd got it wrong about plant-based protein. Schwarzenegger wished he hadn't consumed so much meat back in his bodybuilding heyday.
However, this film was not without its inaccuracies, and now a recent study suggests animal protein is still the better choice when it comes to building muscle.
Research presented at the Future Physiology 2020 conference claims you can build muscle with soy and wheat protein - but you need a much larger dose of these plant proteins.
The researchers believe an optimal approach is to consume both animal and plant-based protein. Going straight to a vegan diet without adjusting your total protein intake will likely lead to muscle loss.
So, in other words, if you need 150 grams of animal plus plant protein to build muscle, you'll need to bump that figure up if you're going to do it on a vegan diet alone.
It's not that you can't build muscle on a plant-based diet. You really can. You just need to consume more of these sources. This makes meat an arguably more potent choice. On a gram-per-gram basis, animal protein is more potent and effective.
Oliver Witard of King's College London said: "This research challenges the broad viewpoint that plant proteins don't help build muscles as much as animal protein by highlighting the potential of alternative plant-based protein sources to maintain the size and quality of ageing muscles."
Including a higher level of plant-based protein in your diet is certainly a sustainable move.
One limitation of this study is that it only considered soy and wheat. Scientists from King's College London say they will be conducting further research on plant proteins such as oat, quinoa and maize.
As for Arnold? Well, he's not completely vegan. He told Men's Health that he consumes a combination of animal and plant protein - which this research claims is the best way forward.