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Vegan protein ‘builds muscle as effectively as animal protein’



Fungi-derived mycoprotein is just as effective at supporting muscle building during resistance training as animal protein, a new study from the University of Exeter has found.

The study is the first to explore if a vegan diet rich in mycoprotein can support muscle growth during resistance training to the same extent as an omnivorous diet.

The research comes as a growing number of adults are eating less meat, with latest figures showing that there are approximately 7.2m adults who now follow a meat free diet.

Dr Alistair Monteyne, the researcher who conducted the trial at the University of Exeter, said:

“It is well established that muscle building can be augmented by adhering to a high protein diet.

“However, it was previously unclear as to whether non-animal derived diets and non-animal derived protein sources, such as Quorn’s mycoprotein, could support muscle building during resistance training to the same extent as omnivorous diets and animal-derived protein sources.”

The randomised trial was split into two phases.

In the first phase, 16 healthy young adults completed a three-day diet where their protein was derived from either omnivorous or exclusively vegan (predominantly Quorn’s mycoprotein) sources, while detailed measures of metabolism were taken.

In the second phase, 22 healthy young adults completed a 10-week high volume progressive resistance training programme while consuming a high protein omnivorous diet or a vegan diet rich in mycoprotein.

The results showed comparable increases in muscle mass and strength in response to both diets, with no significant differences between the two.

The high protein omnivorous diet group gained 2.6 kg of whole-body lean mass, while the group on the vegan diet gained 3.1 kg.

Both groups also increased the size of their thigh muscles by the same amount (8.3 per cent) over the course of the trial.

Based on these findings, the research team concluded that a vegan diet that’s high in mycoprotein can be just as effective as a high protein omnivorous diet in building muscle during resistance training.

Dr Monteyne said:

“Our study demonstrates that mycoprotein is comparable to animal proteins in terms of its ability to facilitate increases in muscle mass and strength in young adults who are regularly engaging in resistance training.

“We now have a strong body of evidence, perhaps more than is available for any other alternative protein source, to show that mycoprotein is an effective protein food to support muscle maintenance and growth.”

Tim Finnigan, Scientific Advisor for Quorn Foods, said:

“At a time when a growing number of people are following official dietary advice to consume less meat for the sake of their health and the planet, it is positive that a high-quality meat-free protein that is scientifically proven to build muscle mass at a rate comparable to any animal-derived protein is available.

“This study builds on a growing body of independently conducted research, thought to be the largest to exist for any alternative protein, that clearly demonstrates mycoprotein’s nutritional excellence as a complete protein with a proven ability to protect against a range of diseases and health conditions.”

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