Vegan and Omnivorous Diets Promote Equivalent Muscle Mass, Study Finds

Veganism has become a preferred choice for everyone due to several reasons. It offers many life-transforming health benefits and enhances overall health. Recent studies performed by the University of São Paulo reveal that the right level of protein intake is the key to muscle health, irrespective of protein source.

The study compared the effects of training in volunteers with an omnivore’s diet. The study conducted by the researchers included young adults; half of them were omnivores, and half were vegans. The participants were monitored for 12 weeks.

Besides exercising, the volunteers followed a mixed diet of animal and plant protein or an entirely plant-based diet. In the end, it was found that there was no difference between omnivores’ and vegans’ diets in terms of muscle strength and mass increase. The author of a published study, Hamilton Roschel, said,

“Like any other protein in our organism, such as the proteins in our skin and hair cells, which die and are renewed, our muscles undergo synthesis and breakdown every day. Diet [protein intake] and exercise are the main protein balance regulators, favoring synthesis over breakdown.”

He is the professor affiliated with USP’s Sports and Physical Education School and Medical School. He further added,

“Animal protein has more leukin than plant protein. Leukin is an essential amino acid in the anabolic stimulus signaling process. A plant-based diet is often thought to contain less leukin and hence trigger less anabolic stimulation, potentially affecting vegans’ capacity for muscle mass gain.”

The Outcome of Both Diets Was the Same

The researcher found-

“Our findings show that there is no impairment of muscle mass gain for young adult vegans if they ingest the right amount of protein. In fact, the outcome of both diets was the same in this respect.”

He further added,

“Meat, milk and eggs contain more protein per gram than rice and beans, for example. In a clinical application with plant-based foods as the sole protein source, vegans would need to ingest a large amount of food to obtain the same amount of protein. In some specific cases, this could be a major challenge.”

The researchers concluded that the participants were healthy adults; therefore, results might differ with older people or with people suffering from severe problems.

“Aging entails a phenomenon known as anabolic resistance, meaning a suboptimal anabolic response to the stimuli provided by diet and exercise compared with young people. Optimal response is possible in older people only if their protein intake is higher than that of the average healthy youngster. So we should be cautious about generalizing our findings for the entire population.”

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