There has always been the staunch advocates and critics arguing
which protein source is the best for athletes, (or anyone for that
matter) wishing to increase their lean tissue. Evidence from the
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition may shed some light on this
In a 12 week study examining the role of meat consumption coupled
with weight training, scientists at Penn State University found that a
diet containing meat was superior to a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet with
regard to gaining mass.
Nineteen overweight men aged 51 - 69 with about 30% bodyfat
participated in the study. Nine consumed a diet derived 15% - 17% of
calories from protein, half of which came from meat based sources,
beef, chicken, tuna etc., 15% from egg or milk products and 35% from
plant sources. The other Ten men consumed a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet
with 12%-15% of calories coming from protein, 40% of which came from
eggs, milk products and the remaining from plant sources.
Although the protein sources differed, the total amount of protein
consumed by each group was comparable, with no significant differences.
All subjects weight trained twice a week for the 12 week study,
performing three sets of each exercise at a weight equal to 80% of
their one repetition maximum. Exercises included leg extensions,
seated leg curls, row and chest press, all done on pneumatic strenght
Participants in both groups improved their strength by up to 38%
with no real difference between between the meat eaters and the
non-meat eaters. However a definite difference in body composition was
recorded. The lacto- ovo group had no change in fat mass and a slight
decrease, ( about 1.2% ) in lean body mass. In contrast, the meat
eating group experienced a 4.6% decrease in fat mass coupled with a
2.7% increase in lean body mass. In addition, the fibre size of the
thigh muscle improved more in meat eaters, than in the lacto-ovo group.
(16% vs 7% respectively.)
The results clarify the point that meat is an important source of
protein, which simply can't be substituted with plant based protein
The bottom line: for increasing lean mass consuming some meat as
part of your overall eating plan is better than a vegetarian based
diet. Even in our quest for lean tissue gains, (ie. muscle) we should
still consider our health and keep meat lean and in moderation.
Content supplied by RealNutrition.co.nz.