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Plant Based Proteins for the Athlete

This great infographic from YLMSportScience is based on the paper The Anabolic Response to Plant-Based Protein Ingestion.

The topic of athletes, protein, and protein sources has been hotly debated for decades. The research is clear that for optimal athletic performance, and I stress OPTIMAL performance, enough protein is critical. Maybe even more hotly debated is plant-based protein vs. meat/dairy/eggs/fish. Your choice should be based on your blood metrics and your performance. Getting annual blood work and consulting a health care professional on the analysis of the blood work is well worth the time, money, and effort. Once you are dialed in, the sky is the limit!

My choice, FOR ME, is meat/dairy/eggs/fish, especially red meat. I have always felt better and performed better eating at least 1 pound of red meat, 4 oz of salmon, and eggs pretty much every day. That is me. What about you?

Many have asked about plant-based protein and athletic performance. See Considering a Plant-Based (Vegan or Vegetarian) Lifestyle? This article will provide you with a good foundation.

So what is the most up-to-date information on this topic? The paper reviews the importance of the amino acid leucine. "Leucine represents the amino acid with the strongest anabolic properties."

Leucine ingestion results "in the activation of the downstream anabolic signalling pathways that control muscle tissue protein synthesis"

"Plant-based proteins may provide the same amount of leucine simply by providing an equivalent amount of protein based on their intrinsic leucine content."

In addition, there are other factors to consider.

"Besides having a relatively low essential amino acid content (i.e. low leucine content), many plant-based proteins are deficient in one or more specific amino acid" like lysine and methionine.

"In short, the amino acid composition of plant-based protein sources can be highly variable."

"The proposed lesser anabolic properties of plant-based versus animal-based proteins may be attributed to differences in protein absorbability, protein digestion and amino acid absorption kinetics, and/or amino acid composition of the proteins."

So how do you fix this if you choose plant-based protein? "The easiest way to compensate for the lower protein quality of a plant-based versus animal-based protein source is to simply consume a greater amount of the lesser quality protein."

At the end of the day, you must decide which route is best for you. And that is always the key, which works best for you.

I am always happy to consult. Feel free to shoot me a text at: 214-531-7939.


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