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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Plant Protein VS Animal Protein VS Milk Protein

Protein is an essential macronutrient, along with fat, carbohydrates and water.Your body breaks down all of the protein you eat into 20 individual amino acids. It then uses those amino acids to rebuild tissues, organs and throughout your body. Of the 20 amino acids that are used to run your body, 9 are essential – which means you have to get them through your diet. The others can be made in your body.

What is Plant Protein?


vegetables, Credits: pexels

The protein we can intake as part of a vegan or dairy-free diet, is considered a form of plant protein.

From vegetables to nuts to seeds and various other herb or plant-based sources are a way to get your protein intake without intake of any animal-based source.

Plant protein, in comparison to animal protein, is not considered that high in quality, especially when it comes to professional fitness or bodybuilding. However, that does not mean that plant protein sources are inferior.

Consuming plant protein is one of the best ways to easily compensate your daily protein requirement without going the lengths of cooking an animal protein and then consuming it. Plant protein is easily digestible and economical too.

What is an Animal Protein?

Plant vs animal protein

fish, Credits: pexels

Animal protein sources include meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, and fish are similar to proteins found in our body. They are complete sources of protein because they contain all the nine essential amino acids that the human body needs to function properly.

Plant protein vs animal protein

Plant vs animal protein

meat and vegetables, Credits: pexels

There are two main ways to determine protein quality:

  1. Amino acid levels and ratios

  2. Protein digestibility

The amino acid levels in plant vs. animal protein.

High quality protein sources are foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. Essential means the body cannot produce these amino acids on its own and requires supplementation through diet.

Food sources that contain all nine amino acids are complete proteins. An incomplete protein is lacking in at least one essential amino acid.

Animal proteins, like whey protein, are complete proteins. They generally provide all nine essential amino acids in the optimal ratios needed to sustain growth and metabolic processes in the human body.

Plant-based protein sources typically have suboptimal levels and ratios of the essential amino acids. While this is true of many individual plant protein foods, you can resolve this by mixing up two complementary proteins into a protein powder blend.

Protein digestibility of plant vs. animal protein.


digestion, Credits: pixabay

It is essential to consider protein absorption and biological value. This is a measure of how much of the protein you consume from a food can be readily used for functions within your body.

Animal based products like dairy, meat, fish, eggs, and poultry have a high biological value.

Plant-based proteins, like legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds have a lower biological value. This is due to missing essential amino acids.

While low biological value sounds seems like a downside for plant protein, adequate intake of total protein, and pairing the right plant proteins together can compensate for it.

Benefits of a Diet Rich in Plant Proteins

Plant vs animal protein

vegetables, Credits: pexels

People from across the globe are switching to a vegan diet. It is linked with various health benefits. Some of them are discussed below.

Lowers the risk of heart diseases

Studieshave revealed that a diet rich in plant proteins lowered blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of heart diseases, in comparison to a healthy high-carb diet.

Prevents obesity

Red meat or other animal protein sources are also high sources of fat. A diet rich in meat, lack of physical exercise, and modern lifestyle combined together can lead to obesity. It is a well established fact that obesity is the root cause of various health problems like hypertension, joint pains, high cholesterol, and heart diseases.

Helps in weight loss

If you wish to lose weight, it is advised that you eat more of plant protein than animal proteins. Eating one serving of beans, chickpeas, lentils, or peas per day can keep you full for the day.

Negatives of Plant Protein

Plant vs animal protein

plant protein, Credits: pixabay

Plant proteins have a lot more to offer than just protein; however, there is inconclusive information on plant proteins’ available essential amino acids. For this reason, those using protein powder for muscle gain may not want to opt for plant protein.

Many plant-based protein powders use a protein combining technique to make complementary proteins. This pairs at least two different plant protein sources together to make a supplement that contains all essential amino acids.

Benefits of Animal Proteins

Plant vs animal protein

Meat, Credits: pexels

A study done on men showed that those who regularly ate one or more serving of fish per week have 15% lower risk of heart diseases.

Some of the most common benefits of animal proteins include the following –

  1. Poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy are associated with reduced risk of heart diseases.

  2. People who eat fish regularly are likely to have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other heart diseases.

  3. Eating animal protein is also linked to increasing lean muscle mass and reduction of muscle loss that occurs with age.

Negatives of Whey Protein or Casein

Milk, Credits: pexels

Since whey is a dairy product, it does contain lactose, which is a type of sugar many people have a hard time digesting. This, along with the negative impact of the meat and dairy industry on our environment, may be viewed as the negatives of choosing whey protein.

Animal-Based Protein Powders

Plant vs animal protein

animal protein powder, Credits: pexels

The most common animal-based protein supplements are made from whey or casein (milk-based), egg, or collagen. With the exception of collagen, all are complete proteins, so you’ll get all of your essential amino acids. Animal-based protein powders tend to have a more neutral taste and blend easier than plant protein powders.

Here are the differences between these proteins:

Casein is also derived from milk, and provides a full range of amino acids. However, it’s a more slowly absorbed form of protein and it tends to stick around in your body for longer. It might not give your muscles as much of a boost right after a workout, but it will help to curb your appetite for longer. It’s good to use as a filling between meal or bedtime snack.

Egg white protein is a good option for those who are sensitive to dairy. It has a neutral taste and good bendability. However, while it will help you meet your protein goals, research suggests that it’s not very effective in stimulating muscle growth.

Collagen is the newer protein supplement on the block. It’s most commonly made bones and cartilage. It’s not a complete protein, but it is high in the amino acids that build and repair skin and connective tissue – hence the reported claims that collagen is beneficial for skin, hair, nails, joints, and even blood vessel elasticity. Personally, I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard it’s tasteless, dissolves easily, and many people swear that they see or feel benefits. Unfortunately, right now, there’s limited research to support the claims.

The biggest negative is the risk of allergy from egg or dairy proteins. If you have known allergies to the proteins in these foods, you should not use protein powders derived from them. Lactose intolerance is different that a milk allergy. Lactose is the carbohydrate in milk, so the protein powders should be low in lactose, but if you’re very sensitive, you may want to avoid them. It’s important to know that whey and casein powders can come in an isolate form which is about 90-95% protein, or a concentrate form which may only be only 80% protein, with the remainder of the product containing carbs (i.e. lactose) and fat.

Plant Protein Powders

Plant vs animal protein

protein powder, Credits: pexels

Pros: If you avoid dairy, eggs or meats, or want to experiment with cutting these out of your diet, plant protein powders are a good option for you. Many people find plant proteins easier to digest, and they feel better overall when they cut out dairy. Plant proteins also provide some extra fiber.

Plant proteins are commonly made from rice, pea, soy, or seeds like hemp, pumpkin, or chia, and often contain fewer unwanted additives than animal-based proteins. With the exception of soy or hemp, individual plant proteins don’t provide all of the essential amino acids. For example, pea protein lacks the amino acid methionine, but it’s high in lysine. Rice protein on the other hand, is high in methionine but not lysine.

However, if you choose a plant protein powder like Amway Nutrilite All Plant Protein Powder that’s made from a blend of protein sources, you’re covered.

Cons: The biggest negatives about plant protein supplements are taste and texture. Most of them are “grassy” tasting, because, well – they’re made from plants. Because of this, many people find that they really need to add lots of stuff (i.e. sweetener, fruit, nut butters etc) to mask the taste. Plant protein powders typically don’t dissolve well in liquid, so they can be chalky or clumpy. For best results, use a blender.

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