Fungi-derived mycoprotein is just as effective at supporting muscle building during resistance training as animal protein, according to the findings of a new study from the University of Exeter.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, is the first to explore if a vegan diet rich in mycoprotein – the naturally high-fibre fungi that is best known as Quorn – can support muscle growth during resistance training to the same extent as an omnivorous diet. It comes as a growing number of adults are eating less meat1, with latest figures showing that there are approximately 7.2m adults who now follow a meat free diet2.
The randomised trial was split into two phases: in the first phase, 16 healthy young adults completed a three-day diet where their protein was derived from either omnivorous or exclusively vegan (predominantly Quorn’s mycoprotein) sources, whilst detailed measures of metabolism were taken. In phase two, 22 healthy young adults completed a 10-week high volume progressive resistance training programme while consuming a high protein omnivorous diet or a vegan diet rich in mycoprotein.
The results demonstrated comparable increases in muscle mass and strength in response to both diets, with no significant differences between the two. The group on the high protein omnivorous diet gained 2.6 kg of whole-body lean mass, while the group on the vegan diet gained 3.1 kg. Both groups also increased the size of their thigh muscles by the same amount (8.3%) over the course of the trial.
Based on these results, the research team concluded that a vegan diet that’s high in mycoprotein can be just as effective as a high protein omnivorous diet in building muscle during resistance training.
This study is the latest to demonstrate the potency of mycoprotein in muscle building, with research published by the University of Exeter in 20203 finding that mycoprotein builds muscle to a greater extent than milk protein, and a 2021 study4 concluding that a mycoprotein-rich vegan diet supports the maintenance of muscle tissue in older adults. However, this latest study is the first to directly compare mycoprotein with an omnivorous diet, including meat, and to do this over an extended ‘free living’ period of 10 weeks of the participants’ daily life.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Alistair Monteyne, the researcher who conducted the trial at the University of Exeter, said:
“It is well established that muscle building can be augmented by adhering to a high protein diet. However, it was previously unclear as to whether non-animal derived diets and non-animal derived protein sources, such as Quorn’s mycoprotein, could support muscle building during resistance training to the same extent as omnivorous diets and animal-derived protein sources.
“Our study demonstrates that mycoprotein is comparable to animal proteins in terms of its ability to facilitate increases in muscle mass and strength in young adults who are regularly engaging in resistance training.
“We now have a strong body of evidence, perhaps more than is available for any other alternative protein source, to show that mycoprotein is an effective protein food to support muscle maintenance and growth.”
The study comes after a report involving University of Exeter researchers found that regular widespread consumption of plant-based proteins could be one of three ‘super leverage points’ that could give hope for a breakthrough on climate change through reducing emissions from livestock farming.
Tim Finnigan, Scientific Advisor for Quorn Foods, said:
“At a time when a growing number of people are following official dietary advice to consume less meat for the sake of their health and the planet, it is positive that a high-quality meat-free protein that is scientifically proven to build muscle mass at a rate comparable to any animal-derived protein is available.
“This study builds on a growing body of independently conducted research, thought to be the largest to exist for any alternative protein, that clearly demonstrates mycoprotein’s nutritional excellence as a complete protein with a proven ability to protect against a range of diseases and health conditions.”
The study is entitled ‘Vegan and Omnivorous High Protein Diets Support Comparable Daily Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Rates and Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy in Young Adults’, published in the Journal of Nutrition. Visit the Quorn Nutrition website to learn more about Quorn mycoprotein.
For more information or to set up an interview with those quoted in this press release, please contact Matt Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org / 07587 418710) or Chris Hayter (email@example.com /07741245596
1. Source: The Lancet – Trends in meat consumption, October 2021
2. Source: Finder.com – How many vegetarians and vegans are in the UK?, January 2021
3. Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2020
4. Source: National Library of Medicine, September 2021
About Quorn mycoprotein
Quorn’s mycoprotein is a nutritious complete protein source with a meat-like texture that is made from a naturally occurring fungus called fusarium venenatum.
The fungus is sourced from the soil and fermented with nutrients made from maize, wheat and essential minerals to create a food that is high in protein and fibre, low in saturated fat and free from trans fat and cholesterol.
Research suggests that, as well as its excellent nutrition profile, the structural complexity of mycoprotein’s cell wall, which is retained through the production process, may explain why it is so good for metabolic health. It is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the nine essential amino acids needed by our bodies.
The natural properties of fusarium venenatum, which again are retained through Quorn’s production process, mean that mycoprotein is also a source of nutrients including riboflavin, folate, phosphorus, Zinc, Choline and manganese.
About the University of Exeter
The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university that combines world-class research with high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 30,000 students and sits within the Top 15 universities in The Guardian University Guide 2023, and in the top 150 globally in both the QS World Rankings 2022 and THE World University Rankings 2023. In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), more than 99% of our research were rated as being of international quality, and our world-leading research impact has grown by 72% since 2014, more than any other Russell Group university.
Journal of Nutrition
Vegan and Omnivorous High Protein Diets Support Comparable Daily Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Rates and Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy in Young Adults’, published in the Journal of Nutrition. Visit the Quorn Nutrition website
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