Anyone who wants to gain more muscle knows how important it is to eat the right amount of protein. That’s because it’s thought that when you eat protein-rich food, your digestive system breaks it down into amino acids. These are used for lots of things including building muscle.

Anyone who’s serious about building muscle is likely to chug down more than their fair share of protein shakes, especially after a workout. That’s because experts recommend having some protein within 30 minutes of a training session to maintain or increase your muscle mass. Whey protein shakes are particularly popular, as whey is thought to contain fast-acting proteins.

But maybe you should have some food made from Quorn instead, say University of Exeter researchers whose latest study was recently presented at the European College of Sport Science conference.

While whey is a milk product, Quorn contains mycoprotein – a plant-based protein made by fermenting a fungus called fusarium venenatum. And according to the Exeter University experts, mycoprotein is better at post-exercise muscle building compared to milk protein. And that’s good news for vegan bodybuilders (though it’s only fair to warn that not all Quorn products are vegan).

In the study, 20 healthy young men were given either milk protein or mycoprotein after working out. After measuring their muscle-building rates, the researchers found those who had milk protein increased their muscle building rates by up to 60 per cent. But the men who’d had mycoprotein increased their muscle growth rates by more than double that of the milk protein group.

Dr Benjamin Wall, an associate professor of nutritional physiology at the university, says the results were encouraging. That’s because many people now prefer to eat plant protein – whether for health, ethical or environmental reasons. (The Quorn website suggests mycoprotein uses 90 per cent less land and water than it takes to produce some animal protein sources.) “Our data show that mycoprotein can stimulate muscles to grow faster in the hours following exercise compared with a typical animal comparator protein – milk protein,” he explains.

In the UK, currently around a third of total protein consumption comes from meat products.

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash