Vegan and meat-eating lifters had similar increases in muscle protein synthesis following a high-protein diet. Vegan and meat-eating lifters had similar increases in lean mass following a high-protein diet for 10 weeks. Vegan lifters should consider supplementing their diet with mycoprotein and creatine monohydrate.
HIGH-PROTEIN VEGAN CREATINE DIETS INCREASES MUSCLE MASS POINTS:
- Vegan lifters need a vegan creatine supplement. Vegan lifters should consider supplementing their diet with mycoprotein and creatine monohydrate.
- Vegan and meat-eating lifters had similar increases in muscle protein synthesis following a high-protein diet.
- Vegan and meat-eating lifters had similar increases in lean mass following a high-protein diet for 10 weeks.
The Impact of Vegan and Omnivorous Diets on Muscle Growth
In the past, if you were to ask an exercise scientist if vegan diets were as effective for building muscle as a meat-eating diet, they would have laughed in your face. It’s generally accepted that plant diets are less effective for building muscle than animal products.
Back In 2018, a pilot study evaluated the effects of three different diets on body composition. The study enrolled three groups of healthy men (omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans) with similar ages, weights, and BMI. The study showed a significant decrease in muscle mass index and lean body mass in vegan compared to vegetarian and omnivore groups. (Vanacore et al., 2018)
All the meat-eating bodybuilders said, “See, I told you so! You need red meat to build muscle” However, it is important to note that a well-planned vegan diet can provide all the necessary nutrients, including protein, for muscle growth and maintenance.
Vegan Creatine Challenges: Inadequate Protein Intake and Quality
Protein is essential for muscle maintenance, growth, and repair, and inadequate protein intake can lead to muscle loss. A high-protein diet has been shown to enhance muscle mass and strength gains during resistance training. (Daniele et al., 2005) Most studies supporting these findings have focused on animal-derived protein sources, such as whey, casein, and milk.
One of the primary concerns regarding vegan diets for building muscle mass is inadequate protein intake. A previous article on Evidence Based Muscle showed that vegan bodybuilders consumed adequate protein during the offseason but did not consume enough protein while dieting for a contest.
While it is possible to meet protein requirements on a vegan diet, it may be more challenging due to the lower protein content of plant-based foods than animal-derived foods. (Gorissen & Witard, 2018) Plant-based proteins are often considered inferior to animal-based proteins regarding their amino acid profile and digestibility. (van Vliet et al., 2015) This is due to the lower content of essential amino acids (EAAs) in plant-based foods, particularly leucine, a key regulator of muscle protein synthesis. (Devries & Phillips, 2015)
For example, a study showed that soy protein ingestion resulted in lower post-exercise muscle protein synthesis than whey protein. (Phillips et al., 2009) However, a higher dose of plant protein or mixing several different plant proteins (i.e., rice, wheat, pea) can result in similar increases in protein synthesis as whey protein. (Gorissen et al., 2018) Furthermore, plants do not contain a significant amount of creatine levels compared to meat sources.
The Impact of Vegan and Omnivorous Diets on Muscle Growth
As veganism has continued to gain popularity, many fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, and athletes wonder if plant-based diets can build muscle growth as effectively as animal-based diets. Some studies suggest that a vegan high-protein diet can be as effective as an omnivorous one in supporting muscle growth and protein synthesis rates (Knurick et al., 2015).
What is Quorn Mycoprotein
Mycoprotein (i.e., Fusarium venenatum) is a hot topic for building muscle and increasing protein synthesis in vegan circles. What is mycoprotein? Mycoprotein is a protein-rich food source derived from the fungus. It is a sustainable and nutritious alternative to animal-based protein sources, with a significantly reduced carbon and water footprint relative to beef and chicken. The appealing feature about Mycoprotein is that it has a meat-like texture and is typically 45% protein and 25% fiber by dry weight. It should be noted that since mycoprotein is a fungus, it may cause allergic reactions in mold sensitive individuals.
A 2020 study found that ingesting a 70-gram dose of mycoprotein stimulates muscle protein synthesis rates greater than 40 grams of mycoprotein. (Monteyne et al., 2020) This suggests that mycoprotein can be an effective protein source for supporting muscle growth and protein synthesis.
A recent study by Monteyne et al. (2023) aimed to compare the effects of vegan and omnivorous high-protein diets on muscle hypertrophy and myofibrillar protein synthesis rates in young adults.
Study Overview: Comparing Muscle Protein Synthesis Rates and Muscle Growth Between Vegan and Omnivorous Diets
The study compared high protein, meat eaters, and vegans’ diet protein synthesis and long-term gains in muscle mass. The study was divided into two phases:
Phase 1: Short-term Effects on Diet and Muscle Protein Synthesis
16 healthy young adults participated in a 3-day high protein diet with subjects consuming 1.8 g/kg body mass/day (.8 grams per pound of body weight) with protein derived from either meat or vegan sources. Participants performed daily unilateral leg resistance exercises.
Phase 2: Long-term Effects on Diet and Muscle Growth
22 healthy young adults completed a 10-week high-volume, progressive resistance exercise program while consuming an omnivorous or vegan high-protein diet (greater than 2 g/kg body mass/day or .9 grams of protein per pound per day).
The vegan athletes consumed mycoprotein-containing foods to boost their protein intake. The researchers analyzed muscle fiber cross-sectional area, whole-body lean mass, thigh muscle volume, muscle strength, and muscle function were assessed pre, after two and five weeks, and post-intervention.
Both groups went thru a one-week loading phase and then received a 5 grams maintenance phase of creatine monohydrate a day. The researchers suggested that creatine (i.e., found predominantly in meat sources) would level the playing field; the benefits of creatine include gaining muscle and improving performance. In addition, studies have shown that creatine concentrations in fasting serum samples were higher in meat consumers than in vegans and vegetarians.
Results: Similar Muscle Growth and Muscle Protein Synthesis Rates Between Vegan and Meat Eating Diets
The researchers found no significant differences in muscle protein synthesis rates and muscle growth between the two diet groups. This suggests that vegan and omnivorous high-protein diets can support muscle hypertrophy and protein synthesis in young adults undergoing resistance training.