New research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, has found that a vegan diet rich in fungi-derived mycoprotein, also known as mushroom meat, is just as effective as animal protein in supporting muscle building during resistance training.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter, is the latest to demonstrate the potency of mycoprotein in muscle building. Research published by the University in 2020 found that mycoprotein builds muscle to a greater extent than milk protein, and a 2021 study concluding that a mycoprotein-rich vegan diet supports the maintenance of muscle tissue in older adults.
“It is well established that muscle building can be augmented by adhering to a high-protein diet. Alistair Monteyne, the researcher who conducted the recent trial, said in a statement. “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.”
The recent study is the first to compare mycoprotein with an omnivore diet, which including meat, and to do this over an extended period of 10 weeks. The results demonstrated comparable increases in muscle mass and strength in response to both diets, with no significant differences between the two.
Numerous prominent startups have utilized mushroom derived proteins as a core ingredient in their plant-based products, including Stray Dog Capital portfolio company MyForestFoods. Further, the growing incorporation of mushrooms as an ingredient in alternative protein products has been a notable trend for the industry this year – including at the recent Expo West convention.
This new data comes at a time when a growing number of adults are eating less meat, with the latest figures showing that there are more than seven million adults who now follow a meat-free diet. The widespread consumption of meat-free proteins could also spur a significant breakthrough on minimizing the effects of climate change through reducing emissions from livestock farming.
Mushroom meat, or mycoprotein, is a naturally high-fiber, single-cell protein derived from fungi. The fungi is sourced from the soil and fermented with nutrients to create a food that is high in protein and fiber, low in saturated fat, and free from trans fat and cholesterol.
Aside from its excellent nutrition profile, research suggests that the structural complexity of mycoprotein’s cell wall, which is retained through the production process, may explain why it is so good for metabolic health. Mycoprotein is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids needed by our bodies. Other studies have also found that mycoprotein is linked to gut health benefits and a reduction in genotoxins known to cause colon cancer. It also has a low carbon and water footprint, when compared to chicken and beef.