Plants are muscle builders, too

By Laura Mize • Published: May 17th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Do you want to maximize the muscle-boosting effects of your power-lifting session, or just maintain a healthy muscle mass into your golden years? A new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicates that plant proteins can be just as effective as animal proteins at building muscle.

A study of about 3,000 adults of various ages showed that whether your protein comes from meat, poultry, dairy, fish or a category of foods known as legumes doesn’t seem to matter very much. What does is getting enough protein in your diet.

Legumes are protein-rich foods that include such staples as beans, lentils, soy, peanuts and peas.

The researchers looked at three specific measures to assess the effects of protein intake. One was appendicular lean mass — that is, the muscle, not fat — makeup of the arms, legs, shoulders and hips. The others were bone mineral density and strength of the quadriceps muscles.

They found that the the study subjects who ranked in the lowest quartile for protein consumption had the worst scores on lean mass and quadriceps strength. There was no notable difference with regard to bone mineral density. Further, the results showed that the type of protein the participants consumed did not affect their scores.

The researchers noted that the findings are particularly important as age-related musculoskeletal losses can lead to physical disability and increased mortality.

Another reason to lean toward legumes? They tend to be more budget-friendly than meat, fish and poultry. So before you head off to the gym, why not tuck into a hot bowl of lentil soup or some soy milk? You might be surprised by the results.