Animal Protein versus Plant Protein

In this blog, we would discuss plant protein, animal proteins and their differences.

Protein is just protein how does it matter if I get if from plants or from animals? If you are one of the people who believe this, then you’re likely to change your opinion after reading this blog. Because the fun fact is that they really are different.

Let’s understand protein briefly before we move ahead.

Protein is essential to our survival. Protein is the building block of our body. Our muscles, hair, nails, organs, bones are all majorly made of proteins. Virtually every. body part contains protein. Protein is just as energy-dense as carbohydrates. And hence, it can also work as an energy source.

Our body doesn’t store protein and hence, it is either created from scratch or made by modifying existing protein in the body.

Chemically, protein is a polymer chain of Amino Acids linked by peptide bonds. A human’s body needs 22 types of amino acids to function properly. Out of these 22, the body can not produce nine amino acids.

These nine amino acids are called essential amino acids because it is essential that we get it from our diet.

After consuming protein, it gets broken back down into singular amino acid building blocks, and then put back together in different arrangements as per the necessity and dispatched to perform various tasks throughout the body

Aprotein source that contains all nine essential amino acids, is called a complete protein source.

Having the right balance of amino acids is instrumental for proper growth, recovery, and keeping ourselves fit. That’s why it is important to understand the difference and importance of different proteins and different protein sources to find out which is better for you.

Also, you might not need as much protein as you’re being told, unless you’re a professional athlete. The National Academy of Medicine recommends0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight.

Protein And Protein Packaging:

Now, getting back to different types of protein and sources, it is important to note, that while we eat something for protein or lean protein, we don’t just get protein, we get everything else that’s in that package, fat, carbs, fibre, toxins, vits, minerals etc. Hence, it’s important to understand that every protein source is a package.

And different protein sources are different kinds of protein packages and that’s what makes all the difference. Let’s understand how. Take a look at the following table which shows different types of protein sources with their packaging.

Different Protein Sources With Their Packaging (Courtesy: Harvard)

If you look and observe the table closely, you are likely to observe the following things:

  1. 4-ounce broiled sirloin steak contains a huge amount of protein about 33 grams worth but along with it comes about 5 grams of saturated fat.
  2. Similarly, 4-ounce of ham steak contains 22 grams of protein but it also delivers over 1400 mg worth of sodium.
  3. Whereas a cup of cooked lentils provides about 18 grams of protein, 15 grams of fibre, with virtually no saturated fat or sodium.
  4. Almond also contains relatively less amount of protein but is rich in various minerals and contains practically no sodium and is low on saturated fat.

Available academic evidence suggests that it’s not the density or concentration of protein in a food item but its packaging of protein that matters more for our health.

Ina study by Harvard Medical School researchers found that substituting 3% of calories from animal protein with plant protein was linked to a 12% reduced risk of dying from heart disease and a 10% reduced risk of dying from any cause during the 32-year study period.

There is a myth about plant protein: Plant proteins are not complete. They do not contain all amino acids. Well, this is a myth which really needs to get busted.

In fact, the fun fact is that all the protein that you get either from eggs, milk, beef, lentils, nuts has it’s origin in plantsAll proteins originate in plants. All animals get their proteins from plants directly or indirectly in the food chain. So it’s not possible that plants do not contain all amino acids. There is mounting evidence that suggests that all plants contain all amino acids in different proportion.

The animals are just mediators. In fact, animals consume six times more protein than they produce. All these myths are fake propagandas by meat and dairy industry to keep thriving over such propagated fears over plant-based diet.

All you need to do is keep eating different lentils, beans, seeds, nuts and you would get more protein than you need. The fear-mongering that plant protein are inferior in quite untrue.

Asa matter of fact, plant protein are better packaged than animal-based protein in multiple ways:

Animal-Based Protein Packaging

The animal proteins are packed with harmful inflammatory molecules like NeuG5, Heme Iron and Endotoxins. Due to the presence of such inflammatory molecules in animal protein, the composition of gut flora changes after consumption of animal protein. And the proportion of the microbes that cause inflammation increases.

A study has found out that a single burger can elevate the level of inflammation in gut by 70%. Inflammation reduces blood flow in arteries and soreness in muscle and joints. Something that any athlete, for that matter a normal person would like to avoid.

As we have seen in the above table too that this animal protein also contains, harmful fat, sodium and other substances in quantities that are way more than advised consumption.

These microbes produce inflammatory mediators like TMAO (Trimethylamine N-oxide).

Plant-Based Protein Packaging

Contrary to animal-based protein, plant-based protein are packaged with antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins etc.

They reduce inflammation, optimise blood supply and gut flora. They are instrumental in athletic performance and recovery.

All these antioxidants are found almost entirely in plants. Plant-based food contains 64 times of antioxidants compared to animal foods.

Many international athletes who were towards the end of their career made startling comebacks after switching to a plant-based diet and broke their earlier youthful records.

Conclusion

If you eat a variety of food, lentils, nuts, seeds, beans etc in your diet then you would get all the protein and amino acids that you need to keep yourself fit.

In fact, you can try to switch your animal-based protein sources with your plant-based protein sources and observe the change in your level of fitness for just one month.

I am pretty sure, that you would yourself feel the difference. On top of that they don’t contain as much fat as animal-based protein and hence keeps you lighter. In our conclusion, plant-based protein are any day a better choice over animal-based protein. Just keep eating from different sources to ensure proper supply.

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