Eating meat improves muscle health better than a plant-based diet as we age, a new study suggests
- A meat-based diet is better for muscle health compared to vegetable proteins
- The King’s College London study also recommends eating both types of food
- Vegans in the UK are therefore more likely to feel the effects of aging bodies
Plant-based proteins won’t improve muscle health as much as eating meat as we age, a study suggests.
Researchers found that animal proteins are more effective than vegetable proteins at preventing muscles from wasting away.
The UK has 600,000 vegans and many have joined the booming trend for health, animal welfare or environmental reasons.
A meat-based diet is better for bone development compared to plant proteins adopted by vegans, a new study suggests
But the study found that vegans should eat a lot more grains, legumes, and beans if they want to get the same benefits that meat, dairy, and eggs provide to aging bodies.
The researchers at King’s College London suggest that people should eat a balance of both animal and plant proteins.
The report said, “While we know that plant-based diets are beneficial to the environment, we don’t know how healthy these diets are for keeping muscles strong.
“The transition from an animal protein diet to a plant-based diet is likely to be detrimental to muscle health as we age.”
There are 600,000 vegans in the UK, but this group is more likely to feel the effects of aging bodies by not eating a meat diet
Muscles are held strong by amino acids, strengthened during exercise or by animal proteins, and as the body ages, it needs extra help to keep muscles from wasting.
Plant-based proteins can do the same, but the amount must be much higher for that effect, said lead researcher Oliver Witard.
While vegans have dumped meat and dairy for a number of reasons – including health, animal welfare, and to protect the environment – the study suggests they do better to balance their diet with both animal and plant proteins.
Witard and colleagues conducted tests on volunteers who received animal proteins or soy and wheat-based alternatives and studied isotopes, blood draw, and muscle biopsies to see how well the muscles were building from amino acids.
Research from King’s College London also stated that animal proteins (photo) are more effective than plant proteins to prevent muscle wasting
The full findings will be presented this week at a virtual conference from The Physiological Society.
Witard’s report said, ‘The number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled since 2006, meaning there are about 600,000 vegans in Britain.
“A more balanced and less extreme approach to changing dietary behavior, meaning you eat both animal and vegetable proteins, is best.”
Further tests with alternative plant proteins such as oats, quinoa and corn should be conducted to see if they are more effective gram by gram.
Witard added, “This study challenges the broad view that plant proteins do not help muscle building as much as animal proteins by highlighting the potential of alternative plant protein sources to preserve the size and quality of aging muscles.”