Strategies to Augment the muscle building properties of plant protein

Strategies to Augment the muscle building properties of plant protein

(Written by Angela Oosterling, BSc Sports Dietitian , NSCA-CPT Strength Coach, ISAK Anthropometrist.)

The fact that you can recover after training and build muscle mass with plant protein is already old news. But there are some points that you should take into account. If it's your goal is to find the most efficient ways to build muscle or if you're looking for ways to enhance and speed up recovery, it's important to learn these smart strategies to increasing the anabolic properties of plant-based proteins.

1. Increase your daily total protein intake

If you overall eat more protein per meal, you’ll probably achieve higher amounts of essential amino acids. EAA’s are amino acids only available through food since the body can't produce them.
So, prioritizing your protein intake and eating enough throughout your day might do the trick.We would recommend a total protein intake of about 2.0-2,6g protein per kg body weight to be a good guideline to start with. Theoretically we are looking at meals of 30-50g protein with at least 2-3g of leucine. However, if you are in a caloric restriction it might be more difficult to get to those amounts without significantly increasing your calories. A high-quality protein powder could be a smart strategy to use to increase your total protein + essential amino acid intake without increasing too much in calories.

 

2. Use a variety of protein sources every day

The consumption of a well-balanced combination of multiple plant-based protein sources, allows a more ‘‘complete" and optimal EAA profile. Combining plant proteins, for example wheat, rice, hemp or corn with black beans, oats, soy, lentil, potato or peas, may augment the anabolic properties of plant-based protein intake.

Did you know?

Leucine content in corn  is high! Higher than a lot of animal-based protein sources like milk, casein, beef, egg and fish! Adding corn will boost your meals with some extra leucine! 

 

3.Add limiting essential amino acids

As mentioned, plant-based proteins typically contain lower doses of essential amino acids. The leucine content of a meal appears to be of fundamental importance to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Especially in the case of lower dietary protein and/or kcal intake, adding an essential amino acid blend (protein supplement) high in leucine like BCAAs, EAAs or single leucine to plant-based protein formulas/meals could be a smart and easy strategy to enhance the anabolic properties of plant-based protein sources.

Did you know?

Our Premium Plant-Based Protein powder is a blend of 3 protein isolated with extra BCAA's and our Premium Vegan Clear Protein is an isolate with extra added EAA-complex.

Main Take-aways

Overall, we need more research to tell us more about the anabolic properties of specific plant-based protein sources. However, is seems that for now: increasing overall protein, blending plant-protein sources and supplementing with essential amino acids (BCAA's or EAA's) might improve the anabolic properties of plant-protein.(1) You can build muscle and strength on a (more) plant-based diet if you're getting enough total daily protein and essential amino acids ánd are on a properly structured resistance training program. (2)

 

  1. van Vliet, Stephan & Burd, Nicholas & Loon, Luc. (2015). The Skeletal Muscle Anabolic Response to Plant- versus Animal-Based Protein Consumption. The Journal of nutrition. 145. 10.3945/jn.114.204305.
  2. Hevia-Larraín V, Gualano B, Longobardi I, Gil S, Fernandes AL, Costa LAR, Pereira RMR, Artioli GG, Phillips SM, Roschel H. (2021) High-Protein Plant-Based Diet Versus a Protein-Matched Omnivorous Diet to Support Resistance Training Adaptations: A Comparison Between Habitual Vegans and Omnivores. Sports Med. 2021 Jun;51(6):1317-1330. 
Angela Oosterling, BSc Sports Dietitian , NSCA-CPT Strength Coach, ISAK Anthropometrist