This debate has many layers to it, given the different goals we have for proteins.

The study you cited above convincingly demonstrated that amino acid levels are somewhat lower for the same amount of protein input from three plant-based blends compared to whey. This is NOT the same thing as “all animal proteins are superior to all plant proteins”.

I want to challenge your thinking on this a few ways. Firstly, how universal is this conclusion. Both plant and animal proteins vary greatly in their bioavailability and pharmacokinetics. Second, and more importantly, I want to challenge your metric of superiority. Are post-prandial blood levels the be-all-end-all of protein quality — particularly in a society when most people consume far more, often double, the protein RDA?

Taking it up one level to look at a more “real-world” endpoint — body composition changes- this study shows no difference in body comp changes in those taking high doses of rice protein versus high doses of whey protein.

This 2019 human clinical trial found no differences either — even when you add a placebo!

Differential Responses of Blood Essential Amino Acid Levels Following Ingestion of High-Quality Plant-Based Protein Blends Compared to Whey Protein — A Double-Blind Randomized, Cross-Over, Clinical Trial

Nutrients. 2019 Dec; 11(12): 2987.

Published online 2019 Dec 6. doi: 10.3390/nu11122987

PMID: 31817691

“On average, all supplement groups including placebo exhibited similar training volumes and experienced statistically similar increases in total body skeletal muscle mass determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry (+2.2 kg; time p = 0.024) and type I and II fiber CSA increases (+394 μm² and +927 μm²; time p < 0.001 and 0.024, respectively).”

Personally, I would love to see the conversation taken to the next level by thinking not just about blood kinetics, ability to stimulate MPS, or every gram of muscle gain, but about HEALTH. This article does a wonderful job articulating this broader perspective:

Adv Nutr. 2019 Sep 1;10(5):755–764. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz023.

Perspective: The Public Health Case for Modernizing the Definition of Protein Quality.


Chana Davis, PhD

Founder, Fueled by Science

Written by

Scientist (PhD Genetics @Stanford) * Mother * Passionate about science-based healthy choices * Lifelong learner * Founder: Fueled by Science

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