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Why Plant-Based Protein is Gaining Popularity

Category: Educational Articles

Nutrition fanatics and health-conscious consumers have focused plenty of attention on protein lately. People who are on specialty diets like keto and paleo, seniors who need to maintain muscle mass, active athletes, people who want to lose weight, and more are turning to protein as a solution.

This popular perception of protein’s role in nutrition and health has led many consumers to look for new ways to fit it into their nutritional regimes. Although animal-based protein is complete, 39% of Americans are actively seeking plant-based alternatives to use in their diets, according to a recent Nielsen survey.

What’s driving this demand? A focus on fit lifestyles and a need for better tasting supplements seem to be the main factors behind the push for plant-based protein powders, bars, and more.

Plant Protein Claiming It’s Place in Sports Nutrition
Consumers these days are conscious of what they put in their bodies, and the products that companies launch indicate that sports nutrition marketers are paying attention. In the year ending in October 2017, 40% of new sports nutrition products in the United States bore labels such as “high in protein” or “added protein.” Clearly, the public demands more protein, but not just any old protein will do.

In the same time period, 10% of new sports nutrition products used “vegan” or “100% plant-based” in their marketing. This is significantly higher than the number of new products in the general food and drink industry making the same claim. This suggests that athletes are even more inclined to use plant protein in their diets than the general population.

Plants as a Healthy Alternative
The Nielsen Homescan Panel Protein survey from April 2017 found that 38% of all consumers associate plant-based protein with positive effects on a person’s well-being. Of those who actively try to include more plant protein in their diets, 83% say they do so to improve their health and 62% say that weight management plays a role.

Clearly, many people choose plant-based foods for fitness’ sake, but is that the right move? For some people, it could be.

Some researchers from the International Society of Sports Nutrition Symposium found that, when combined correctly, vegetable proteins can give the body the same amino acids as animal-based protein, but without the cholesterol and saturated fat.

Another study looked at performance in Mixed Martial Arts fighters to see if consumption of plant-based or animal-based protein changed performance. The research found that fighters who supplemented with brown rice protein instead of whey did not suffer losses in performance or body composition. Some of the plant-based fighters even reported an increase in energy.

Taste is a Critical Factor
While health is a major reason many athletes choose plant-based proteins, it’s not the only reason. When it comes down to it, many consumers just like the way this protein tastes. In fact, recent research from Mintel shows that 52% of Americans choose plant-based protein because it just tastes better than the alternatives. As manufacturers continue to find new ways to incorporate plants into great-tasting meals and shakes, you can expect this trend to grow.

Enzymes Help with Any Protein
While the research shows that plant-based proteins can be as healthy as animal-based ones, there’s no one reason that everyone needs to choose one over the other. You should feel comfortable picking the protein that works best for you.

No matter where you get your protein, you can use enzymes and probiotics to maximize every gram. A protein-digesting enzyme product like ProHydrolase® maximizes the performance benefits of protein supplements by ensuring that all the protein gets digested and used for muscle building. It’s effective with both animal and plant-based proteins. In addition, probiotics are becoming increasingly studied and recognized for their benefits to athletes. Deerland’s Bacillus subtilis DE111® was shown in a clinical study to improve body composition and strength when paired with proper post-workout protein nutrition. You can learn more about Deerland’s products to see how to make the most of your protein supplement.

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