Beef can stimulate muscle protein synthesis more effectively than plant-based proteins, says study

As our food system adapts to the demands imposed upon it by climate change, the amount of protein consumed from plant-based sources is likely to increase relative to those from animal-based ones. While there are many benefits to be gained from plant-based proteins, there may also be certain nutritional negatives. For example, according to a new study published in The Journal of Nutrition​, muscle protein synthesis is higher following ingestion of a whole foods meal containing meat as primary source of protein, compared to a whole food plant-based protein meal.

Amino acids and muscle protein synthesis

In order to understand the outcomes of this study and their implementation, we must first understand the role and link between muscle protein synthesis and dietary protein.

“Our muscles are composed out of proteins, and these proteins are continuously being broken down (old/damaged/unnecessary proteins) and synthesised. As a result, every two to three months the proteins in our muscles are being renewed. This process is essential to keep our skeletal muscles healthy. In order to maintain and make muscle proteins, our body needs proteins from our diet. These proteins provide building blocks for the muscle proteins in the form of amino acids ,” Philippe Pinckaers, one of the authors of the study, told FoodNavigator.

“In total, there are 20 amino acids, some of which the body can make itself (called non-essential amino acids), some of which the body cannot make itself (called essential amino acids). In order to make muscle proteins we need a sufficient amount of all amino acids, but since the body cannot make the essential amino acids itself, it is important that we ingest a sufficient amount of it though our diet.”