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Fitness & Health

04th Jul 2019

Study finds vegan protein builds muscle better than milk

Scientists from the University of Exeter compared the vegan protein mycoprotein with milk, and found it was a more effective post-workout muscle builder

Alex Roberts

You may need to rethink that whey protein shake…

Milk protein has long been considered the most powerful source of post-workout muscle-building, but a very well-known vegan protein may even beat it to top spot.

Mycoprotein – which Quorn products are made from – was found to stimulate muscle building to a greater degree than milk protein.

Milk protein (such as whey) is excellent fuel for muscle growth. It is high in the amino acid leucine, and is rapidly absorbed by the body. This is why milk and whey protein often provide the basis for comparing other protein sources.

Milk protein versus mycoprotein

The University of Exeter looked at how effective milk and mycoprotein were at boosting the number of amino acids in the bloodstream of 20 regular gym-goers.

Amino acids effectively work as the building blocks of protein. They are responsible for the growth and repair of muscle tissue. This is particularly important after a workout, when you’ve lifted some serious weight and stressed your muscle fibres.

Generally, the more amino acids in your bloodstream, the greater your rate of muscle growth.

Those involved in the study went through their usual workout routine, and afterwards were given either milk protein or mycoprotein.

Scientists discovered that ingesting milk protein boosted muscle building rates by up to 60%, which is hugely impressive. However, those who consumed mycoprotein increased their rate of muscle growth by more than double this figure.

Dr Benjamin Wall of the University of Exeter says, “These results are very encouraging when we consider the desire of some individuals to choose non-animal derived sources of protein to support muscle mass maintenance or adaptations with training.”

“Our data show that mycoprotein can stimulate muscles to grow faster in the hours following exercise compared with a typical animal comparator protein (milk protein). We look forward to seeing whether these mechanistic findings translate to longer term training studies in various populations.”

What is mycoprotein?

Mycoprotein is a source of vegetarian and vegan protein sourced from a fungus called fusarium venenatum. Manufacturers take this fungus and combine it with oxygen, nitrogen, glucose and various vitamins minerals to produce mycoprotein.

Vegan Protein Sources

It is high in protein and relatively high in fibre, too.

The main source of mycoprotein in Europe and the US is found in Quorn products.

Recent research has suggested that current recommendations for protein intake are too low — some scientists have calculated that minimum protein requirements could have been underestimated by as much as 30-50% in some populations.

The British Nutrition Foundation recommends mycoprotein as a good source of dietary protein, both for general health and sport and training.

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