Animal vs Plant Protein:  Which is more effective for strength gains and muscle building?

Plant-based food plans are becoming more and more popular over the years.  Vegan.  Vegetarian.  Meatless Mondays.  Simply aiming to include more plants in your intake.  All of it.  

And it's all good!  Fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans and legumes, etc. are wonderful and can help our overall health, contribute to our macronutrient balance, give us vitamins and minerals, and enhance our gut health.

But, how do plant-based food plans stack up as far as protein is concerned?  

Do you receive the same impact and "gains" of protein from eating plant-based sources compared to animal-based proteins?

The answer, according to a recent study says that plant-based protein DOES have the same impact as animal-based protein when it comes to making gains, filling us up, and supporting our body composition and fitness goals.  

Without getting super science-y, this means that as long as protein intake is adequate, at least 0.7-0.8g per pound of body weight per day, it doesn't matter where the protein comes from.  You can still make gains and receive the overall benefits of protein.

This is great news.  This study indicates that including more plant-based foods and proteins does NOT negatively impact you in terms of gaining strength or the impact of the protein on your system. 

To this point, eating adequate protein will: 

  1. Help maintain/promote weight loss
  2. Keep you feeling fuller longer, potentially reduces hunger 
  3. Allow for increased recovery and repair
  4. Increase muscle mass and strength
  5. Support bone health 
  6. Support bone health 
  7. Help combat the effects of aging as we get older

It is, as always, most important to figure out an appropriate balance of calories, macronutrients, and protein sources that one enjoys, regardless of the specific food plan. So, check in on your intake!  

Body weight and protein intake

Take your body weight (or goal body weight) and multiply it by 0.7.  That will give you a ballpark of protein grams to aim for each day.  For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your goal is 105g protein per day.

Are you already eating at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of your body weight? Great! If not, you can make that a goal for yourself.  When you ensure you’re getting enough protein, notice how your hunger levels change, how your body composition shifts, how your energy is impacted, and how your workouts feel.  

Keep eating that protein, plant or animal-based!


All about protein: What is it and how much do you need?

High-Protein Plant-Based Diet Versus a Protein-Matched Omnivorous Diet to Support Resistance Training Adaptations: A Comparison Between Habitual Vegans and Omnivores