Earlier this month, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study concerning plant and animal protein—and the benefits of each. The pressing question researchers were looking for an answer to: does plant protein build muscles as well as meat protein? The short answer is yes.
The study recorded the health records of roughly 3,000 men and women ages 19 to 72. The participants were also asked to complete food questionnaires. This allowed researchers to examine participant’s total protein intake—as well as its specific sources. Participants’ lean muscle mass, bone mineral density and quadriceps strength were recorded.
Through comparison and analysis, researchers came to the conclusion that the source of protein—whether from plants or from meat—didn’t matter. What did matter was whether or not people were consuming enough protein overall.
Basically, more protein equals better muscle health. Furthermore, protein consumption is crucial, especially as a person ages—since people tend to lose muscle as they get older. Luckily, protein is easy to incorporate into an average diet.
Sources of plant protein include:
- Green peas
- Nuts and nut butter
- Leafy greens
- Sesame, sunflower or poppy seeds
Sources of meat protein include:
- Fish (salmon, cod and tuna are particularly high in protein)
- Lean turkey and chicken
- Lean beef
- Pork loin
The takeaway from the study: protein is an essential part of a person’s diet. Whether the protein is coming from a plant source or a meat source, it helps build muscle mass and strength.
Photo: East Midtown, CC-BY
Elizabeth Chambers is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.