Plant vs. Animal Protein

Protein is an essential part of the diet. It helps to build, repair, and maintain the body’s structures. Foods derived from plants and animals can both provide protein, but there are some differences.

What is the difference between plant based and animal protein?

One of the main differences between plant and animal proteins involves their amino acid contents.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When the body digests the proteins in food, it breaks them down into amino acids.

The body may need different amino acids at different times. Many people believe that the diet should include complete sources of protein, which contain all nine essential amino acids.

  • fish
  • various types of eggs
  • dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and whey
  • red meat from cows, bison, and deer
  • poultry from sources such as chickens, turkeys, and quails

Most plant proteins are incomplete, which means that they are missing at least one of the essential amino acids.

However, some plant-based foods, such as quinoa and buckwheat, are complete sources of protein.

It is important for vegetarians and vegans to mix their protein sources and ensure that they are getting all of the essential amino acids.

Also, keep in mind that some sources of plant protein may take longer for the body to digest and use.

The following are examples of plant-based foods rich in protein:

  • grains
  • lentils
  • nuts
  • beans
  • legumes
  • certain fruits, such as avocados
  • soy
  • hemp
  • rice
  • peas

Many other nuts, grains, and vegetables also contain high amounts of protein.

Which is better for your health?

When choosing between plant and animal sources of protein, it is important to factor in the other nutrients that the foods provide.

Foods rich in protein can have widely ranging nutritional profiles.

Certain sources of animal protein can contain high levels of heme iron and vitamin B-12, while some plant-based foods lack these nutrients.

On the other hand, plant-specific nutrients, called phytonutrients, and some antioxidants are absent from sources of animal protein.

Animal products contain saturated fat and higher levels of cholesterolthan sources of plant protein. A person may wish to avoid animal products for these reasons.

Fiber is another important factor. Only plant-based foods contain fiber, which helps to keep the digestive system balanced.

In general, the best way to cover a person’s dietary needs is to eat a wide variety of foods.

Which is better for building muscles?

Athletes and others looking to increase muscle mass and reduce the amount of time it takes to recover from exercise often pay close attention to their protein intake.

Protein helps repair and build up the muscles after a rigorous workout.

Many athletes turn to whey protein for building muscle. This type of protein is easier for the body to break down and absorb, which can give whey an edge over other sources, such as meat, eggs, and vegetables.

Regarding plant-based sources, one study suggests that that rice protein isolate may offer similar benefits to whey protein.

Many people recommend consuming a combination of plant-derived proteins after a workout. This can provide the body with a range of amino acids.

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