Vegan protein supports muscle building as effectively as animal protein, new study says

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  31st March 2023

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Vegan protein created by Quorn was the subject of the research which has been published in the Journal of Nutrition


Fungi-derived vegan protein is as effective at supporting muscle building during resistance training as animal protein, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Exeter carried out the randomised trial, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Split into two phases, the first saw 16 healthy young adults undertake a three-day diet, consuming protein from either omnivorous sources, or from exclusively vegan (predominantly Quorn’s mycoprotein) sources whilst detailed measures of metabolism were taken.

During the second phase, 22 healthy young adults completed a 10-week high volume progressive resistance training programme while consuming a high protein omnivorous diet or a vegan diet rich in mycoprotein.


According to the researchers, the results demonstrated ‘comparable increases in muscle mass and strength in response to both diets, with no significant differences between the two’.

They found that the group on the high protein omnivorous diet gained 2.6 kg of whole-body lean mass, while the group on the vegan diet gained 3.1 kg. Both groups also increased the size of their thigh muscles by the same amount (8.3 per cent) over the course of the trial.

The researchers concluded that a vegan diet that’s high in mycoprotein ‘can be just as effective as a high protein omnivorous diet in building muscle during resistance training’. Meaning that, contrary to what some might believe, it is possible to build muscle on a vegan diet.

Vegan Protein, like this Quorn chilli, can help to support muscle building. Image © Quorn

Vegan Protein, like this Quorn chilli, can help to support muscle building. Image © Quorn

Vegan protein to build muscle

In a statement sent to Vegan Food & Living, Dr Alistair Monteyne, the researcher who conducted the trial at the University of Exeter, said: “It is well established that muscle building can be augmented by adhering to a high protein diet.

“However, it was previously unclear as to whether non-animal derived diets and non-animal derived protein sources, such as Quorn’s mycoprotein, could support lean muscle building during resistance training to the same extent as omnivorous diets and animal-derived protein sources.

“Our study demonstrates that mycoprotein is comparable to animal proteins in terms of its ability to facilitate increases in muscle mass and strength in young adults who are regularly engaging in resistance training.

“We now have a strong body of evidence, perhaps more than is available for any other alternative protein source, to show that mycoprotein is an effective protein food to support muscle maintenance and growth.”


‘Nutritional excellence’

Meanwhile, Tim Finnigan, Scientific Advisor for Quorn Foods, added that the study adds to the growing pool of research supporting mycoprotein’s ‘nutritional excellence’.

He said: “At a time when a growing number of people are following official dietary advice to consume less meat for the sake of their health and the planet, it is positive that a high-quality meat-free protein that is scientifically proven to build muscle mass at a rate comparable to any animal-derived protein is available.

“This study builds on a growing body of independently conducted research, thought to be the largest to exist for any alternative protein, that clearly demonstrates mycoprotein’s nutritional excellence as a complete protein with a proven ability to protect against a range of diseases and health conditions.”

It’s not difficult to switch out meat for animal-free alternatives. Get inspired with these 23 vegan seitan recipes even meat-eaters will love

Featured image credit: nd3000/Getty Images

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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