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mccoy

proteins: plant-based versus animal

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This is an issue which has been  gnawing at my subconcscious for a while. Why bodybuilders are so keen on animal-derived protein? They always insist on lean beef or, alternatively, chicken. All other things being equal, the same amount of plant-based protein should provide an equal growth. But it is not like that. Bodybuilders would eat whatever satisfies their desire for larger muscles; if tofu or tempeh would show to bring about bigger muscles, we can be sure they would be eating soy products like mad. They don't though. Experience has thought them. They are not advocates for paleo nutrition, they are simply muscle-building machines. So what it is? 

In teh recent podcast featuring Valter Longo and Rich Roll, the latter asks the former what's in animal protein which is so detrimental to health. surprisingly, Valter Longo does not answer straight away, he says it's not very clear.

 

So, I did one simple thing. I plotted a few animal and plant-based foods according to their contgent of Leucine (mTor activator) and Methionine (IGF-1 activator). The graph is very eloquent. I chose either 100 gr portions (beef, chicken, tofu, salmon, pumpernickel bread) or other significant quantities (250 ml milk).

 

Beef, chicken, salmon, overwhelm the Leucine and methionine content of plant-based food. Tofu is well below a half the Leucine of lean beef and chicken, with one quarter the methionine.

 

Is it so simple? I mean, is the above difference enough to justify the stronger anabolic effect of animal based protein? Maybe so, together with the fibreous matrix of plant-based protein which may make'em less available and the known, lowest availability of protein in green leaves (low Jones' factor).

 

Of course, the higher anabolic effect means easier overamplification of mTOR activity and consequent aging and cancer hazard (plus other factors like pro-inflammatory agents, TMAO and so on).

 

Tofu and soymilk remain very good plant-based protein sources for those who wish to grow muscles on a vegan diet. Soymilk surprisingly has the same Leu content of cow milk, with half the meth content.

Some portions may be not too meaningful, so suggestions are welcome to change quantities and make foods more directly comparable.

 

Last but nto least, Leu and meth might not be the only amminoacids responsible, although the role of Leucine as a necessary signaling factor for mTOR phosporylation is well known.

 

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Edited by mccoy

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I'm surprised by your surprise ;)xyz  . This is really well-known: it's why books on becoming veg(etari)an used to emphasize the notion of "complementary proteins" (eg. beans and rice) to balance out the inadequate amino acids in different proteins. See this discussion from the official report on macronutrients from the National Academy of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board (esp. pp. 682 and 685), PMID 18469291 on protein quality, and PMID 8172124 on plant proteins. Here is a pretty good blog entry on the subject.

 

Beyond that, we've been discussing for years the fact that vegetal proteins are low in Met and Leu and the reasons to favor them for that reason. The protein in vegetal sources is also less accessible due to the fiber content, and for these and other reasons, vegetal protein is much less IGF-1-inducing than animal protein — which is a Bad Thing if you're all about building muscle. Ditto the fact that Leu stimulates mTOR.  In my own case, as I've noted before, even at ≈80 g protein and 16% of energy from mostly vegetal protein, my free and total IGF-1 levels were too low (and I attribute some negative health effects thereto), and I subsequently bumped it up to 20% protein, with the extra protein being either dairy or more highly-absorbable vegetal sources (tho' I have a hard time titrating my protein intake to get a consistent, agreeable IGF-1 profile).

 

Your chart is a bit misleading, as of course content of amino acid automatically increases with sheer protein grams per gram of food source; it would be more useful if you charted out grams of Met and Leu per gram of protein in each source.

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Thanks for the tips michael!

By the way, I was mainly surprised by the fact that Valter Longo did not point out these facts to Rich Roll, who asked him why high quantities animal protein turned out to be detrimental. Aren't you?

 

I'm going to heed your suggestion to prepare another chart, although the one I posted gives a quick idea about the contents of portions of equal weights, with the consequent immediate approximate evaluation.

 

I mean, I cannot eat more than 125 gr of tofu in a meal, whereas bodybuilders will easily eat a 500 gr beef cut or chicken breast. The diff in Leucine and Methionine content is huge.

 

Of course, I'd prefer to build smaller muscles and slowly, but avoid the higher cancer hazard which comes with all that Leucine and methionine.

 

And, for those interested in bulding or mantaining muscles with a vegan diet, tofu and soymilk turn out to be excellent foods, in terms of amminacids score and in terms of Leucine content. I also find soymilk very digestible. And of couse soy protein isolates, with moderation...

Edited by mccoy

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I have some doubts that the protein comparison by the gram, as suggested by MR, is very meaningful for practical purposes, at least for those who do not adhere to a cronometer fixed amount of protein.

 

For instance, cronometer indicates that my week average for protein was 92 grams daily (164% RDA), 220% RDA Leucine, 214% RDA Methione

 

However, 92 grams of protein are achieved by only 150 grams of beef and 150 grams of chicken breast (274% RDA Leucine, 412% RDA Methione).

 

Yes, the carnivorous option has twice the meth and 20% more leucine, but fact is that, while my vegan option includes a lot of foods, the carnivorous option includes just 2 items and merely 508 kCal.

 

A more meaningful comparison, daily regime by daily regime, would be more realistic meal for the carnivorous choice, who happens to be someone working out and wishing to build muscle, even though not competitively.

 

So, a more realistic 2730 kCal bodybuilder's regime with 2 FDA portions beef and 2 FDA portions chicken plus 2 scoops of whey protein and bread, potatoes and vegetables+EVOO would entail:

 

Proteins 241 g (430 % RDA), Leucine 638% RDA, Methionine 835% RDA.

 

The difference with my vegan plan is abysmal. I could barely eat more than I eat now, possibly only if working out strenuosly, but I could never reach the amounts needed to hit 600% Leucine and 800% Methionine, whereas in carnivorous terms that's guaranteed by a not too huge regime of just 2700 kcals.

 

I listened to the reports of some vegan athletes, but a recurring issue is the difficulty in eating huge amounts of protein such to reach a chronic overamplification of mTOR, which warrants huge muscular bulk

Edited by mccoy

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As a next step, I'm going to build an example of adherence to the protein RDA by a vegan and by a carnivorous diet. Again, that may be meaningful vegan vs. ketogenic carnivorous, because a non-keto carnivorous will naturally tend to eat far more than the protein RDA. 

Edited by mccoy

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This is another comparison which I find interesting in practice: a vegan 1800 kcal regime with 100% RDA proteins vs an omnivorous 1800 kcal regime with 100% RDA proteins. Since omnivorous regimes tend to be much higher than RDA, this is a Ron Rosedale's diet, low carb, hi fats, moderate protein.

 

Vegan regime:

Protein 100% RDA

Leucine 143% RDA

Methionine 130% RDA

 

Omnivorous, Rosedale regime

Protein 100% RDA

Leucine 154% RDA

Methionine  239% RDA

 

So, basically the difference lies in the methionine, which is almost double in the omnivorous, isoproteic diet with respect to the vegan diet. And probably most omnivorous people will not be satisfied with 100% RDA protein.

Of course, the choice of foods might vary the percentages, but I tried to choose representative samples of either diets. 

Below, I attach the cronometer list of the foods analyzed

 

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Edited by mccoy

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Another comparison yet, following MR's clue: tofu vs beef, portions which yiled the same amount of protein:

 

Beef, lean 50 gr

 

Protein  15 gr

Leucine  1.3 gr

Methionine 0.4 gr

 

Tofu extra firm 115 gr

 

Protein 15 gr

Leucine 1.2 gr

Methionine 0.2 gr

 

Again, Leucine amounts are almost the same, whereas methionine is double in beef.

 

But the beef portion is only 50 grams, whereas the tofu portion is 115 grams. People will gulp down easily 300 grams of beef, whereas I would never dream about eating 700 grams of tofu, the equivalent amount in protein.

 

Banally, from the above posts, it seems reasonable to believe that the detrimental effects of animal protein may be mainly related to the excessive amount of protein which can be ingested, with so much leucine to overamplify mTOR and so much methionine to overamplify mTOR and provide excessive growth factors.

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my free and total IGF-1 levels were too low (and I attribute some negative health effects thereto),

 

I'm curious - what was the test result number if you know it, and also what were the negative health effects you were having?

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FWIW:

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180529092150.htm

 

"Researchers studied 2,441 men, age 42 to 60, at the study's start and followed them for an average 22 years. Overall, researchers found 334 cases of heart failure were diagnosed during the study and 70 percent of the protein consumed was from animal sources and 27.7 percent from plant sources. Higher intake of protein from most dietary sources, was associated with slightly higher risk. Only proteins from fish and eggs were not associated with heart failure risk in this study, researchers said."

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FWIW:

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180529092150.htm

 

"Researchers studied 2,441 men, age 42 to 60, at the study's start and followed them for an average 22 years. Overall, researchers found 334 cases of heart failure were diagnosed during the study and 70 percent of the protein consumed was from animal sources and 27.7 percent from plant sources. Higher intake of protein from most dietary sources, was associated with slightly higher risk. Only proteins from fish and eggs were not associated with heart failure risk in this study, researchers said."

 

Thanks for the reference, my observations without reading the original paper are that:

 

  1. The general results pretty much fit into the 'more protein, more hazards' previous observations
  2. The general results also pretty much would confirm  the 'more animal protein, more hazards' previous observations
  3. The fish and eggs results should deserve more examination, also a mechanistic cause should be given as why these foods turn out to be not detrimental to heart health. How many protein from fish & eggs are not associated with heart failure risks? There might be some concealed bias in the study.
  4. The fish and eggs results would not deny the higher cancer hazards deriving from animal protein in general.
  5. The overall higher mortality from too many animal protein would offset the obstensible advantages to hearth health of fish and eggs.
  6. According to this study, a dietary design optimization  would consist in including not only fish (as per Valter Longo suggestions) but some eggs as well, presumably in modest amounts.
Edited by mccoy

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