Press releases

Quorn protein found to be equivalent to animal protein for muscle synthesis in older adults

26 November 2020

26 November 2020 – Data published this month in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) demonstrates that obtaining dietary protein from animal-derived sources is not an essential prerequisite to support muscle protein synthesis rates in older adults.

A study, which has been published in the BJN, has found that mycoprotein, the protein-rich food source that is unique to Quorn® products, supports equivalent rested and exercised daily muscle rates in healthy older adults.

The results show that a single bout of resistance exercise performed daily each morning increases daily muscle protein synthesis (MPS) rates in older men and women consuming a high-protein diet, regardless of whether it is obtained primarily from animal or non-animal sources.

The study examined whether a vegan diet can support daily muscle protein synthesis to the same extent as an omnivorous diet. This process was measured in nineteen healthy older adults, who took part in a randomised controlled trial in which they consumed a three-day isocaloric (identical in calories) high-protein diet, where the protein was obtained from animal or vegan sources. Meanwhile, the participants also conducted a bout of unilateral resistance-type leg extensive exercises each morning. Muscle samples were then collected from both the rested and exercised legs to determine daily MPS rates.

Healthy ageing is becoming more important than ever. It allows us to enjoy longer years of life in better health, so we can continue to do the things we love. However, there is a clear association between ageing and a progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass which can not only increase the risk of falls, and subsequent hospitalisation, but also increases the loss of independence of older adults and reduces quality of life. Therefore, maintaining muscle mass and quality are fundamental for healthy ageing.

Tim Finnigan, Chief Scientific Adviser for Quorn Foods, said: “It is always exciting to release data that showcases the qualities of mycoprotein, particularly when we are able prove that it provides similar results to consuming animal protein. The association between muscle loss and increased incidence of falls, fractures, and metabolic disease, particularly underlines the critical role that muscle mass and quality play in healthy ageing. We are therefore extremely happy that mycoprotein can be suggested as an effective and beneficial protein source for older adults.”

Muscle mass is regulated by the dynamic balance between daily muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle protein breakdown (MPB) rates. For synthesis of new muscle protein, all 20 amino acids must be present in the body in adequate amounts; this includes the nine ‘essential’ amino acids which can only be obtained through diet.1 Mycoprotein, the main ingredient in all Quorn® products, contains all nine essential amino acids.

Despite limited non-animal protein sources having been investigated, there has long been a common misconception that animal-based protein sources were superior for muscle tissue synthesis. However, recent research conducted at Exeter University found that mycoprotein, a fungal-derived and sustainably produced protein-rich food source, stimulated resting and post-exercise muscle protein synthesis rates to a greater extent than milk protein.2 Further to this, mycoprotein is the only vegan protein source, to date, that's ingestion has been shown to acutely stimulate MPS rates to a comparable extent as an animal-derived comparator.3

For more information about Quorn Food’s research into the impact of mycoprotein on health, please visit our nutrition website, www.quornnutrition.com.

1 Wolfe RR. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:30.

2 Monteyne AJ, et al. Abstract presented at ECSS 2019.

3 Monteyne A, Coleho M, Porter C et al. (2020) Mycoprotein ingestion stimulates protein synthesis rates to a greater extent than milk protein in rested and exercised skeletal muscle of healthy young men AJCN (under second review).

For more information please contact lon-quorn@ketchum.com or 0203 755 6670