Science Confirms Plant-Based Protein is the Same as Protein From Meat

No matter what you eat, ensuring that you’re getting enough protein is one of the biggest concerns that many of us have. Not only is it essential for those looking to build muscle, protein is good for muscular health, overall. For a long time, animal-based products have been at the forefront of our obsession with protein. However, as more and more people eschew animal products in favor of plant-based foods, plant-based proteins, such as pea protein, have been on the rise. As we start to see more plant-based proteins making their way into stores, naturally, many of us are asking which type of protein is the best. Well, one group of researchers had the same question — so they got answers.

A recent study published in this month’s issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that if muscle-building protein is what you seek, plant protein is just as good as animal protein. Researchers in this study analyzed the dietary protein intake of a sample of nearly 3,000 men and women, ages 19 to 72, as well as the sources that the protein came from such as dairy, meat, fish, poultry, fast food, and legumes. Then, they analyzed the participants’ lean muscle mass, bone-mineral density, and quadriceps strength. The results revealed that those who consumed low amounts of protein had the lowest measures of muscle mass and strength while those who ate a high protein diet had better muscular health. In both instances, researchers found that there were no significant differences in musculoskeletal health in relation to the type of protein participants consumed. However, the amount of protein consumed by participants did not seem to have a significant effect on bone-mineral density.

According to the study’s lead author, Kelsey Mangano, PhD, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, “as long as a person is exceeding the recommended daily allowance for protein, no matter the source in their diet, they can improve their muscle health.” But, Mangano also advises other factors that should be taken into account when choosing a protein source: “Choose protein sources that are lean—limiting saturated fat—and also those that are low in sodium.” What’s lean, free from saturated fat and sodium, and high in protein? Legumes!

Not only can plant-based protein go head-to-head with animal proteins, choosing plant-based proteins might be the better choice overall. A 2016 study conducted by the University of Copenhagen revealed that those who consumed meals made from legumes felt fuller for a longer period of time. Not only that, participants in the study who consumed a legume-based meal rather than a meat-based meal were shown to consume 12 to 13 percent fewer calories during the next meal. So, go ahead and give that pea protein a try.

There Might Be a New Male Eating Disorder

It’s an unfortunate truth that women’s struggles with eating disorders are far more prominent in the media than those of men. The prevalence of eating disorders among young women is understandable given that our society objectifies women’s bodies for commercial gain. But men have their own body insecurity to deal with, which might be the cause of a new male eating disorder, reports Quartz.

According to Dr. Richard Achiro, an LA-based psychotherapist, more men than ever are using and abusing supplements like protein bars, whey protein, and creatine. Although Achiro’s research is still unpublished, his survey of 195 men (all of whom went to the gym at least twice a week and had consumed a workout supplement within 30 days of the survey) found that one man in five had replaced a regular meal with a supplement that wasn’t designed to be a meal replacement. What’s more:

Eight percent [of men surveyed] had been told by physicians to consume less or no supplements at all because of actual or possible health impacts; and 3 percent had been hospitalized for supplement-related kidney or liver problems. Twenty-nine percent said they were worried about their supplement use.

Achiro says the findings make sense when we consider the increased objectification of men in mass media. They’re also a factor of changing times—these days the hulking Schwarzenegger bodybuilder physique is out, and a more lean, chiseled Ryan Gosling body type is in. Unfortunately for dudes, the Gosling look is harder to achieve.

Low self-esteem and insecurity were also factors among those who’d abused supplements. This “points to the fact that using these supplements excessively is about more than the body,” Achiro said. He hopes to carry out more research on the topic in future. In the meantime go easy on the brotein, and try not to drool over shirtless Ryan Gosling pics.