Protein ingestion and physical activity stimulate muscle protein synthesis and are essential for the maintenance and accretion of skeletal muscle mass. The protein that is ingested during recovery from exercise further augments muscle protein synthesis rates and supports the skeletal muscle adaptive response to more prolonged exercise training.
Habitually our protein intake originates from both animal and plant-based sources, and in general plant-based proteins are considered to provide a lesser anabolic stimulus following ingestion when compared to animal-based proteins. This is mainly attributed to their lower digestibility and incomplete amino acid profile.
In a recently published study, researchers from the Netherlands have found that a plant-based derived protein, from potato concentrate powder, may support muscle repair and growth as well as animal milk protein in males. The study results appear in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Plant-Protein as good as Animal-Derived for Muscle Protein Synthesis
Potatoes are the third most commonly consumed crop worldwide. They contain a mere 1.5% protein based on their fresh weight. However, when potatoes are used for starch extraction, a residue remains (potato fruit juice) which is generally used for feed production or discarded as a waste product, from which a potato protein concentrate can be extracted.
For the study, researchers randomized and double-blind a total of 24 healthy young males, of around 24±4 years to receive an amino acid infusion, which served as a tracer to measure muscle protein synthesis (MPS) rates. They also took blood samples to measure amino acids, insulin, and blood glucose.
The participants were instructed to perform seated knee extensions in a machine and to do leg press with increasing weight loads. After some rest, the team drew blood samples and took muscle biopsies to determine MPS rates at rest and during exercise recovery.
Participants were then randomly assigned to drink a beverage with 30 g of potato protein or milk protein.
The researchers found that ingestion of both potato and milk protein increased mixed muscle protein synthesis rates with no differences between treatments. They concluded that in healthy young male adults the building of muscle can be accomplished with no real differences between protein sources. Showing that this plant-based protein is as effective as those milk-derived.
Pinckaers, et al. Potato Protein Ingestion Increases Muscle Protein Synthesis Rates at Rest and during Recovery from Exercise in Humans. 2022. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002937.