Posted on Mon, 14 Oct 13
Vegan protein isolates are becoming popular dietary supplements, but are they really as good as whey protein? According to a new study, yes.
It is well known that a protein shake after resistance training can help build muscle, burn fat and improve performance and recovery. Protein supplements are often broken down into animal (e.g. whey) or plant derived protein (e.g. rice, pea). Most studies however have been on whey protein, which is thought to be superior because it is rich in muscle building branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).
Indeed previous studies comparing plant-based protein isolates to whey have found whey better, but the amount BCAAs in plant protein is naturally a bit lower, so the contest was hardly fair.
Until now there has not been a study to see if a higher dose of plant protein, providing levels of BCAAs that would build muscle, could match whey's benefits.
To compare plant (rice) protein to animal (whey) a group of people who were resistance training consumed a 48 gram dose of either straight after training for 3 days per week over an 8-week period.
After the 8 weeks researchers discovered no difference between rice and whey. Both equally improved lean body mass, muscle mass, strength and power and decreased fat mass.
The bottom line: rice protein is as good as whey.
Joy JM, Lowery RP, Wilson JM, Purpura M, De Souza EO, Wilson SM, Kalman DS, Dudeck JE, Jäger R. The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutr J. 2013 Jun 20;12(1):86