Plant proteins abound in sports nutrition

Plant-based proteins have strong, stable roots on grocery store shelves. As athletes and active consumers feed on products made from old substitutes including peas, rice, hemp and soybeans, unique new proteins including sacha inchi, quinoa and lentil. of water appear with greater frequency in protein mixtures. Yet their effectiveness in supporting muscle building is unclear.

Plant protein gives animal protein a run for its money. However, plant foods generally contain less protein per serving and the protein is often of lower quality (1Amino acids. 2018; 50: 1685-1695). Still, processing can improve both the protein content and the quality of vegetable protein powders. Protein quality is a measure of both amino acid content and the bioavailability of those amino acids, according to a document of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (UN) / World Health Organization (WHO). Most plant proteins lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids (EAAs),1 which are needed for protein synthesis in muscle. When one or more EAAs are rare, muscle protein synthesis (MPS) will not be maintained at the same rate (Amino acids. 2010; 38[5]: 1533-1539). Additionally, plants naturally contain antinutrients, nutrients that bind to other nutrients, including amino acids, making them less bioavailable. When proteins are separated from the plant, they are also separated from many, if not all, of these antinutrients. Processing also increases the amount of protein, and therefore amino acids, per serving compared to the whole food form.

Old standby: Peas, rice, hemp, wheat and soybeans

A handful of plant-derived proteins have entered the mainstream market, gaining consumer acceptance and increasing the opportunities for less familiar protein sources to follow.

Pea protein

Pea protein comes in many forms, including isolates, concentrates, and wet or dry textures. Pea protein can be used in a number of applications, including cheese, dairy-free milk and ice cream, processed fish, meat alternatives, hot and cold cereals, snack bars. of pasta and baked goods.

Although pea protein is low in methionine and cysteine, consuming two to four times the amount of pea protein can compensate for this lack. Additionally, a 50/50 blend of peas with rice, corn or hemp can be used while increasing the total protein content by 10-90% to ensure all EAA needs are met.1

The above content is taken from Sports Nutrition: Proteins – digital magazine. To finish reading, click on the link.

Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, is an expert in nutrition communication whose work has been published in popular press magazines, ezines and trade publications in the nutrition industry. She has been a guest expert on NBC, ABC and CBS Affiliates on the East Coast. For more information visit