Are the Animals Taking Over the Protein Market?


by Matt Weik

Exercisers around the United States are constantly shopping for a quality source of protein to use post workout. What they usually grab is a tub of their favorite flavor of whey protein from a manufacturer they trust. Whey has been used for a very long time, giving the consumer the protein requirements needed to help pack on lean muscle.

A recent study is showing animal sources might be just as beneficial, if not better.

A new double-blind study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition is showing that protein found in beef and chicken sources are just as effective at increasing lean body mass than the dairy version (whey) everyone is used to using. Researchers at the University of Tampa had 41 subjects (comprised of males and females aged between 18 and 30) complete an 8-week resistance training protocol where they were given 48g (2 servings of 24g each) a day of beef protein, chicken protein, whey protein, or maltodextrin. At the end of the study, the beef group gained 3.5 kg of lean mass; the chicken group gained 2.9 kg of lean mass; and the whey group gained 3.3 kg of lean mass. They also noted that there was a significant reduction in fat mass in the groups that were using the protein sources versus the maltodextrin. The beef group lost 2.7 kg; the chicken group lost 2.1 kg; and the whey group lost 1.4 kg. Oddly enough, while the maltodextrin group didn’t yield any lean mass gains, after the 8-weeks, the maltodextrin group actually lost 2.3 kg of fat mass.

As we know, the amino acid profiles are different in all the sources mentioned above. However, the study concluded that using beef or chicken as a post workout protein source can be just as effective as using whey. The researchers mentioned that this is great news for those following the paleo diet and lifestyle. Beef and chicken sources are allergen and lactose-free which opens the door for more consumers to jump into the sports nutrition market to enhance their lean mass gains. This is great news as sports nutrition companies now have the option to use chicken or beef as their protein source and open up new growth opportunities since the whey market is saturated.

The findings of this study are great for the sports nutrition industry. While beef and chicken protein will never fully replace whey, having the option to add another tool to your toolbox adds variety to the market and your palate. Companies who don’t want to use whey can now source beef and chicken protein or they can make their own proprietary blends using whey along with beef or chicken to formulate a uniquely blended protein source.

The researchers reported, “Choice of protein source did not significantly impact resistance training outcomes and this data indicates that unique digestibility characteristics may offer benefits to protein supplements beyond amino acid content which should be considered when choosing a post-workout protein.”

It appears many people have some solid gains in their future……thanks to the animals!

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition — 2015, Volume 12 (Suppl 1): P11, doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-12-S1-P11 “The effects of beef protein isolate and whey protein isolate supplementation on lean mass and strength in resistance trained individuals – a double blind, placebo controlled study” Authors: M. Sharpe, et al.