With many athletes becoming ever so aware of the sustainability of the ecosystem, they’ve started looking at alternative ways to eat to minimise their impact.
In this case, there’s a need for more eco-friendly protein sources such as the newcomer; insect protein.
The question I’ve been getting lately is; does it actually work
Well, Vangsoe et al (2018) put three types of protein to the test; Whey, Soy and the lesser Mealworm (Insect Protein). Their objective was to compare the amino acid (AA) availability and profile in the blood after consuming each of them.
Over the 120 minute measuring period, whey protein was the clear winner with insect and soy coming in a distant second. The inferiority of soy and insect simply comes from their lesser amino acid profile when compared to whey – In other words, whey protein will give you more bang for your buck as seen in the graph. I.e. per 100g, you’ll get far more essential amino acids and branch chain amino acids.
This doesn’t mean that soy and insect proteins are useless, it means that you’ll *most likely* have to consume a greater amount to ‘switch on’ muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and stimulate muscle growth. In most cases, 25g of whey protein/serving is adequate to maximise gains, where 25g of soy and insect will unlikely due to their lower leucine content. i.e. the anabolic trigger.
For the nerd in the room, there was a slight difference between soy and insect protein. The soy protein being faster digesting, peaking at 40-60 mins where insect AA peaking at 120 mins. Therefore, soy is deemed to be faster digesting where Insect being slower digesting. In the grand scheme of things, they work out to be very similar by the 120 min mark.
It’s very clear that this is a new and very under-researched area within sports nutrition – therefore its ability for supporting muscle growth is very speculative. But, I would put a strong guess that it can be as anabolic as whey protein if you correct the dosing of it.
To date, there’s one study by Vangsoe et al (2018) showing that muscle growth wasn’t superior over 8 weeks after supplementing with Insect Protein. However, the comparison group already had a relatively high protein intake, plus they were using the *perhaps under-dosed* serving size which lacked adequate amounts of leucine, EAA and BCAA’s necessary to stimulate MPS.
Nevertheless, it’s still very early days .
T o-B e-C o n t i n u e d.
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