Thursday, May 13, 2021

Beyond Meat Plant Protein Vs. Animal Protein

The Study

Plant based meat substitutes are popping up everywhere these days. You can even get a plant based Whopper at Burger King! Are they any better for you than red meat? This study wanted to find out. In a crossover design, 36 subjects consumed 2 or more servings of Beyond Meat plant protein or animal meat each day for separate 8 week periods. A number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease were taken before and after each 8 week intervention. 

The results were interesting. After the Beyond Meat intervention, body weight was significantly lower (around 2 pounds in 8 weeks) and LDL cholesterol was significantly lower (around 10 mg/dl). There was no difference in other measures, including blood pressure, insulin level, glucose level, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride level. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2020; 112:1188-99.  

Take Home Message

The Beyond Meat vegetable protein had a nice impact on weight and LDL cholesterol in this trial. The fact that it is higher in fiber and lower in saturated fat explains these results. I’m surprised that it did not show more benefit, to be honest. The red meat chosen in this intervention was 80% fat, which is a lot of extra saturated fat. If they had chosen lean or very lean red meat, you may not have seen much of a difference in LDL cholesterol. 

There is no doubt that vegetable protein is a great protein choice. However, there is no reason to become a vegetarian, as chicken, turkey and seafood are excellent protein choices. Red meat should be an occasional treat (once a week max) and be sure to include vegetable proteins like beans, nuts, lentils and protein rich whole grains, such as quinoa, as often as possible.

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