Building muscle effectively: vegetable or animal proteins?

muscle building

No muscle building without proteins. That’s for sure. But opinions are divided on whether animal or vegetable proteins are better. We will tell you what it really comes down to. 

Meat and cottage cheese have long been known as the protein sources for muscle building training. The problem: Animal products, such as red meat and sausage, are higher in fat and cholesterol. Researchers have found that excessive consumption of animal proteins can have a negative effect. Is that right? And what should you really pay attention to when it comes to proteins? We explain.

What are proteins actually?

Proteins are the building blocks of our body. This vital nutrient is important for many bodily processes. For example, they form the basis of our body cellsand are part of the synthesis of important enzymes in our body. Each protein molecule consists of a small amount of amino acids.

With regular strength training your protein requirement increases, because proteins are the number 1 fuel for your muscles . Only if you get enough protein can you effectively build muscle and nourish the new muscle mass with the right nutrients.

If you want to build muscle, we recommend that you get 1.3 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilo of body weight daily .

Plant and animal PROTEIN: the difference

In principle, animal and vegetable proteins consist of the same amino acids . However, the difference is in the number of amino acids and the biological value . The biological value describes how quickly proteins can be metabolized by the body. Here, 100% is regarded as the benchmark for very good utilization or conversion into the body’s own protein. Vegetable protein sources often do not have the ideal amino acid composition. That is why we recommend a combination of different vegetable protein sources.

To give you an idea of ​​what this means, we have listed examples of the biological value of various protein-rich foods.

By the way: You can improve the biological value by combining different protein sources. A good combination is, for example, egg with legumes.

protein-rich foods

In the next step, we will show you the biological value of various vegetable and animal proteins. This way you can also judge for yourself which foods provide a lot of protein.

Biological value of vegetable protein sources

  • Soybeans: 53%
  • Peanuts: 48%
  • Lentils: 33%
  • Oat flakes: 60%
  • Chia seeds  : 115%
  • Cashews: 64%
  • Rye: 83%
  • Peas: 43%

Biological value of animal protein sources

  • Beef: 83%
  • Pork fillet: 76%
  • Tuna: 83%
  • Chicken breast: 70%
  • Salmon: 75%
  • Trout: 75%
  • Low-fat cottage cheese: 81%
  • Egg: 100%

Vegetable or animal PROTEIN? The most important facts at a glance

The basis and starting point must always be healthy food . It is important that animal and vegetable protein are in good proportion.

A cohort study by US Health Care Professionals found that excessive consumption of animal proteins (lots of red and processed meat) can have negative health effects . A significant improvement was found by replacing animal proteins with vegetable proteins 1 .

The Nutrition Center advises not to eat more than 500 g of meat per week. The golden rule is: everything in moderation! For example, in addition to protein, fish also contains essential fatty acids , which are vital.

Vegetable protein: muscle building

According to the Framingham Third Generations Study from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute and Boston University 1 , the source of protein does not play a primary role in muscle building . Because proteins lead to muscle growth and the protein source is not decisive in this. So you can easily replace or supplement animal protein with vegetable protein. If you make sure you get enough protein, you don’t have to worry about a deficiency.

Vegetable protein sources such as lentils, chia seeds, nuts etc . are the perfect alternative to chicken or pork fillet and they fit perfectly into a healthy and balanced diet.

Our conclusion

If you train hard and want to build muscle effectively, a balanced diet is very important. The idea that only meat can provide more muscle mass has now been contradicted in several studies. It is the mix that counts: if you use sufficient vegetable protein sources in addition to animal protein sources, you will stay fit and successfully build muscle mass.

  • If you train hard, your protein requirement is increased
  • With regular training, we recommend 1.3g – 1.5g of protein per kilogram of body weight
  • Vegetable protein is just as effective in building muscle as animal protein
  • Too much animal protein can have a negative effect
  • A balanced diet is the key to a fit body

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