Should Vegan Protein Be Treated Equally With Whey?

Garage Gym Athlete
Should Vegan Protein Be Treated Equally With Whey?

Hey, Athletes!  Episode 184 of The Garage Gym Athlete Podcast is up!

Should Vegan Protein Be Treated Equally With Whey?


  • Jerred and Joe discuss a study on Whey Protein vs Vegan Protein
  • The guys discuss he study and all of it's results
  • They go through their own preferences when it comes to protein types
  • They discuss what to look for when selecting a vegan protein
  • They give a quick update on their own training
  • And A LOT MORE!!

Diving Deeper… 

If you want to go a little bit deeper on this episode, here are some links for you: 

Study of the Week  

The Muscle Protein Synthetic Response to the Ingestion of a Plant-Derived Protein Blend Does Not Differ from an Equivalent Amount of Milk Protein in Healthy Young Males

Garage Gym Athlete Workout of the Week 

Don't forget to listen to this week's episode!


Thanks for listening to the podcast, and if you have any questions be sure to add it to the comments below!

To becoming better!


Podcast Transcript

Joe: [00:00:00] Welcome to the garage gym athlete podcast, where we talk about fitness, health, and anything to help you become the most optimal human beings. Let's dive in.

Jerred: All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Garage Gym Athlete podcast. I'm Jared Moon here with Joe Courtney. What's up, Joe? What's going on, man? Not a lot. How's training going for you? Not great. What's why

Joe: not great? Fighting off a head cold from last week. And then drill weekend and just fatigue with a terrible sleeping baby.

So my workouts, the last couple of days, the last five, five days or about a week have been subpar

Jerred: and like that zombie mode. Yeah. Try to get it done.

Joe: Yeah, but at least next week, at least starting Saturday, we're starting to actually get like really good weather, like actually warm and sunny.

So I think that'll help kick me into gear because I just don't like starting anything when it's chilly out. But it's still chilly here.

Jerred: What's chilly? [00:01:00]

Joe: Of high 50s. Yeah. And

Jerred: breezy. I feel like that's the perfect weather, though.

Joe: No, I need 60s with some. I really need sunshine. I absolutely need sunshine.

Yeah, I just

Jerred: does not motivate me. Yeah, I don't like overcast weather, but I feel like 50s. In the garage, typically, like if you're doing something, doing anything that's going to generate body heat, like that's a good temp.

Joe: Nah, I'd rather start warmer. I'm okay. Sweating extra being hot like miserably hot later on in the workout, but I'd rather start warmer

Jerred: Dude, it's getting hot here.

I was really pressed for time yesterday And so I didn't get to do a regular like my regular garage gym training session I was like, oh crap. I can either train tonight or I can just do something at my son's practice so I took him to tennis practice and It's at a high school. So I was like I'm just gonna go run at the track of the high school while he does that.

But I also didn't want to just like leisurely [00:02:00] run. I like, I don't get to go to a track very often. Most of the running is done like around here or I just do stuff in my garage. And so I was like, you know what? I'm just gonna do 400 repeats. And so that's what I did, but the weather just flipped like Saturday, honestly, so Saturday, which was like three or four days ago as a, as of the time of recording this.

And it was stupid hot yesterday. For me cause I'm not quite acclimated even though I live in Texas, we just haven't been there. So I think it was like 92 degrees. With really high humidity and sunny, like right around like hottest point of the day. So three 30, four o'clock, something like that.

And that was pretty miserable. I was like, I was getting really my first two as with 400s typically go like my first two were fine. I was like, yeah, those are good. But those next, I think I ended up doing six total. And then I did longer rest intervals. Brutal. I could make it. At about the 200 [00:03:00] meter mark, I was gassed.

I was just hot. And then my, I look at my garment after I'm done because this new feature I haven't really used but it's like. It asks you

Joe: how you feel and

Jerred: stuff? It tells you how acclimated you are to the heat. Cause it'll do this. It'll tell you heat acclimation also tell you like elevation acclimation.

If you go up to elevation, like if your markers are getting within range, I don't even know what they're tracking, but the heat acclimation, they're like, as of Saturday, you were 5% acclimated. Now you're 30% acclimated. I was like I still have a long way to go. So I'm curious if it actually works though.

I'm going to, I'm going to try it out and see, I got Once it gets to 100, once it says like you are acclimated to the heat, I want to see if I start feeling better, 400s feel a little bit easier all that kind of stuff.

Joe: Yeah, it'd be cool for tracking wise because you can look back at the date of the percentage and then what your splits were, or your heart rate.

Jerred: Yeah, that was brutal. I have not done 400s in a while. It felt good though. It feels good just to go fast sometimes and [00:04:00] empty the tank a little bit. Yeah, I've been

Joe: wanting to do some 400s. 400s or 800s? I can't decide, but... I'm going to work them in.

Jerred: Who would ever, that's not even a decision.

Like, why would you ever want to do an 800?

Joe: Cause the pacing is slower and

Jerred: it's not really supposed to be, it's not supposed to be that much slower. 800 is just supposed to suck. Like really suck.

Joe: 400 is pretty, pretty much suck. 800, yeah, they do suck. I don't know. There's longer rest and pacing is a little bit slower.

And also typically you're doing less. So like where I might do eight 400s, I'm only doing four

Jerred: 800s. Yeah, so what are you doing when you do 800s, are you going for, so there's like your mile pace, like PR mile pace, is that the kind of pace you're keeping, or are you trying to go faster? I don't know what your mile time is, but if, I don't even remember my current mile time, honestly.

7 minutes are you going for a 7 minute mile pace on 800s?

Joe: It's dependent on the day, like whatever I start off with, I try and set like a [00:05:00] really good hard pace. And then I just try and keep that for the rest of the day. So it's subject on the day, because especially because I haven't been doing that many intervals or that much speed work.

I don't even know, like I said, I don't even know what my mile time would be right now. It's more of okay, how much can I push it for this first and second one, and then can I keep this up for the rest of mine for eight hundreds? I know my. My, my four hundreds times and that one I can pretty much keep up with.

It's more of time to completion versus pacing because especially with pacing on Garmin, like you can look at it and then you can keep the same pace and then it might take a minute to catch up and it might vary 10 seconds plus or minus as you're going 10 or 20 seconds sometimes. Dude,

Jerred: Garmin's got it locked in.

I feel like this is not just like a Garmin ad and it's totally not. But, I was using yesterday and most of the time when I'm using it in my garage, I don't need a garment. You know what I mean? I'm just training, lifting weights in my garage, whatever. It's so unnecessary to have a garment.

But when you're doing running and like that kind of stuff, like it, it [00:06:00] was showing me like my power output on one screen. If I wanted to look at that, it would show me my pace. It has the track run setting. So it'll know which lane you're in and it's pretty cool. I liked it a lot.

Joe: I am interested in the power stuff, cause that's a new feature and I'm not sure how to, what to do with it or how to interpret it. Cause I've seen it with on my runs. I just don't know Oh, cool. My power went

Jerred: this way. Yeah, I don't know. I get how you could use it to me. It's no different than if you were to be using.

Heart rate as a gauge, you could use power as a gauge, or you could use pace as a gauge, right? Like to me, it's pick your poison maybe power is slightly more accurate, but if I'm going uphill, it knows that so I have greater power output, not on a track, but if I'm just doing like another run, the power output would be greater.

So I guess if you were trying to maintain a certain power, you could adjust. But they even have settings for that, that'll adjust your pacing based off of elevation that you're coming up on. I guess that's where it could change, because if you're like, hey, I [00:07:00] wanted to hold a 200 power output for this whole run, you would know when you're going uphill, you could back down your pace significantly.

Because you're still going to be putting out power. You know what I mean? That same amount of power. So I feel like that might be, because if I was like, I want to do a seven minute mile pace for this entire five mile run, doesn't really make any sense. If I'm going uphill to try and maintain seven minutes, will you sprint up the hill just to try and maintain that seven minutes?

So I think it helps with things like that, but if you're on a track, I would, I like just to keep pacing. I ignore heart rate. I ignore. I'm not really into the power stuff yet, but pacing okay, I need to keep this at a five minute mile pace or four 40 or like whatever. And that'd be for shorter sprints.

Joe: My my neighborhood is really hilly, especially because I live on toward the top of the hill. At first, I'm mostly good. There's I start off going uphill. Then I go all the way downhill. And then it's like a little ups and downs throughout the bottom. And then, but on the end, I have to come all the way back up and.

So I'd be, I might actually look at power next

Jerred: time. My, my house is similar. Maybe not as aggressive as yours, but [00:08:00] the first mile after you leave my neighborhood is just downhill, like straight up one mile. So I always feel like I'm just a champion for a full mile downhill. I'm like, wow, this is amazing.

And you come back, man, I'm out of shape and I need protein. So that's what we're talking about today. We'll go ahead and dive into it. I wanted to do this one selfishly this is a study really looking at animal protein versus plant protein in regards to supplementation because if you've listened to the podcast, you've probably heard me complain about having to be dairy free off and on.

I've brought it back and all sorts of crap, but this isn't about me, but ultimately I don't really I consume animal protein though, I'm not vegan. Vegan, vegetarian, anything like that. I just I can't really consume whey protein. It's like too concentrated or something. I can drink some milk and have cheese and stuff, but...

to be like two ultra constant concentrated dairy for my digestive system. So I can't have it. So I'm always trying [00:09:00] to find the best vegan proteins and powders and all this crap. And I hate it cause I wish I wasn't even having to go down that road, but I've been looking at this stuff for a long time, ever since I made the switch, which was probably back in 2018.

But all my other protein sources are. I don't have to worry about generally it's animal protein, chicken or beef or like whatever. So yeah, I was very interested in this study. The title of the study, it was done in 2022. It's the muscle protein synthetic response to the ingestion of a plant derived protein blend does not differ from an equivalent amount of milk protein in healthy young males.

And they just gave the whole thing away. Just right off the bat. So this was... A pretty cool study randomized double blind parallel group design. 24 young males aged 24 plus or minus 4 years. So the big why are they doing it? Obviously they're wanting to see if plant derived proteins.

Is as effective as animal based protein specifically milk milk based [00:10:00] protein, but they really wanted to see they were looking at the amino acids because they had looked at previous research and this is something that I've been talking about since 2018 when I had to make the switch was you need to be looking at leucine, lysine.

In methionine, I typically only look at leucine but that's basically why they did the study because they were saying, Hey, we want to see which one's more effective, but also we want to put a little more emphasis on the amino acid profile because you can get a vegan or vegetarian protein. You can also get a non vegan or vegetarian protein a beef protein isolate that has next to no leucine. It just doesn't have the right amino acid profiles, which is not as effective. So that's what they were looking at. In my view, it's not just was it plant based, but it's is it, if it's plant based and hits the right amino acid profile, what are we looking at?

And so how they did this was I found this pretty interesting. I ended up looking into this more than I should have.[00:11:00] Because they did a prime continuous phenylalanine infusion, phenylalanine. So what they do, I didn't know, I didn't really know what that was, but they put this amino acid in your blood and it's like a continuous drip.

And then they'd have them ingest protein. And then they would do blood samples. They also did muscle biopsies and basically they're tracking the tracer amino acid that they had put in a continuous drip. And then they're seeing like what, where it goes and with what other.

Protein sources. And so they're finding out like, Hey, what ended up in your muscle? And that's what they're looking at. So the two things that they were looking at were blood concentration of amino acids, and also they're looking at muscle biopsies and to see what the muscle protein synthesis rate was.

That's how they measure muscle protein synthesis was giving them this amino acid infusion and all this stuff. So anyway, they had 30 grams of milk protein [00:12:00] or a 30 gram plant derived protein blend confining 15 grams of wheat protein, which has become really popular lately. 7. 5 grams of corn.

Protein and 7. 5 grams of pea protein. So it was a mixture of those three different types of protein called the plant blend. And like I said, they did blood and muscle biopsies. They were collected frequently for five hours to assess plasma amino acid profiles, which was their secondary outcome and subsequent muscle protein synthesis rate, which was their primary outcome.

Ultimately they did find milk increased plasma essential amino acid. Concentrations more than plant blend, so their secondary outcome, just like how many, what was the amino acids present in the blood the blood panels that you took and it did, milk had more in the blood, but when it got down to the actual muscle protein synthesis rates there was no significant difference between the two different proteins.[00:13:00]

So that's most of the study. What did, what'd you think of it?

Joe: I remain, I will, I don't want to say unconvinced, but I'll start with a compliment sandwich. It I wasn't, I was pretty surprised at the corn protein. And then the fact that I haven't really seen corn protein in many things, but the fact that it's high in leucine, that was pretty interesting to me.

And I don't know if that was, we talked about the last podcast your, carb supplement that you're doing that now has protein with it. They have some sort of cor corn blend, and I think that's interesting, which is probably why, how that gets leucine as well. But I also I don't know, wouldn't expect corn protein to have pretty high in leucine.

However, I, it, the structure of the study was weird. The tracer, acid was cool to see how it goes and where it goes. But it was, it's very short and they didn't have them do any sort of fitness leading up to it during, after it was. Two, from what I understand, it was just two groups that consumed two different proteins, and then they just saw where it went, and then they, their conclusion was that plant protein, and [00:14:00] it's very vague, like, when they first worded it, it's very vague on how plant protein can be as good as whey, but there are so many different kinds of blends of plant proteins out there.

that you still need to like really investigate what plant protein you're taking because there's a bunch of with p there's a bunch with soy there's with certain seed proteins out there's they have seen a bunch with like certain pumpkin seeds and whatnot there's i guess corn so yeah so all these different Plant proteins are out there and some of them you can't just be like, Oh, cool.

I just saw the study and it says plant proteins are just as good as whey. I'm going to try this out, but you need to really like still investigate further and not take the study for what it says on the surface. And but it's, it was, I guess it's still cool to see that. From an amino acid, as long as you have the right, basically the takeaway is as long as you have the proper amino acid profile, then you're good, but you just need to really make sure and to investigate that the amino acid profile

Jerred: is good.

Yeah, and I think that is the most important part and [00:15:00] yeah, they had a very clickbaity title again, the title was the muscle protein synthetic response to the Ingestion of a plant derived protein blend does not differ from the equivalent amount of milk protein in healthy young males. And yeah, that's true That's what they tested You know, I don't know if it's necessary that they're They had to do anything else or the study of any longer because of what the study was testing.

And we've talked about this before. This is more if I need you to develop power. And fitness I just need to make you a more powerful athlete then. And I come into your garage and I'm like, Hey, I need you to move the barbell at this speed. And, I put on the tracker and I look at it and I'm like, okay, you're moving the barbell at the speed I want.

So this is the weight that we should be doing. You're moving the speed. I need you to be doing this frequently. I can now leave. And I don't need to do anything else because I've controlled your barbell seed speed. So I'm really just looking at velocity, making sure you can hit velocity. I don't care what happens 12 weeks from now, because I know [00:16:00] what you're doing now is effective.

Like you're moving the barbell fast enough, as opposed to the flip side of that, of doing a full program and then finding out how much faster you got by 12 weeks. So to me, they're two different things, but they're going to lead to the same outcome. So I think that's why they didn't, because they're looking at was this going to the right place?

Was it ending up in muscle tissue? Because there's a large argument in vegan vegetarian proteins that you need some like 20, 30% more than like an animal protein for it to be effective because of how much like waste is involved in the digestive process of. ingesting plants. And those are studies as well.

That's not like random stuff. Like there, there are studies and this is all published. Even when you go through like personal training certifications, they let you know things like that. Just in case you have a vegan or vegetarian athlete they'll have to consume a little bit more. But that to me, that's when you're actually eating the plant.

When you're taking this like condensed source of protein that they've already [00:17:00] gotten from these other sources. I feel like it's a little bit. You don't need to put in 20% more protein to get it consumed. So I think that's a good thing, but yeah, I think ultimately you're right. You have to focus on the losing content and it does work both ways.

So when I was finally like, okay, I'm going to be done with dairy based protein supplements. I didn't switch to a vegan or vegetarian supplement. I didn't want to, I switched to a beef protein isolate. Which was Equip at the time, and the more research I did to find out like how effective proteins were, all of my research pointed me towards leucine specifically.

And the rule of thumb here is you want about 2 grams of leucine per serving. Like whenever you're having your protein, like if you eat three times a day, you want to try and get two grams of leucine in that sitting to be able to have enough protein muscle synthesis to see the results you want in ingesting protein [00:18:00] for muscle development muscles, like avoiding muscle sparing or have muscle sparing, all those kinds of things, avoiding muscle waste.

So that's what you want is that two grams of leucine. That's what I landed on. And then I emailed the company that had the beef protein isolate and I was like, Hey, how much leucine do we have? And it was something like, okay, per hundred grams, we have 1. 7 grams of leucine, but a hundred grams isn't even the serving size.

It was like 30 grams of serving size. So I needed to have three servings in a day to even get to 1. 7 grams of leucine, which arguably is probably enough, like two grams is like a great margin of error is like probably more than you realistically need, but I'd say 1. 7 to 2. 2 grams, something like that.

That's when I was like, crap, where can I get, where can I get more leucine? And the more research I found pointed me directly towards p protein specifically. Like p protein has the most leucine in it. Over anything else and I've tried a lot of these other different [00:19:00] protein sources in this vegan vegetarian world But I'm pretty much okay at this point if it's a pea protein supplement because I know pea protein has a lot of leucine But I still email these companies and ask if they don't have it like clearly stated on the website like hey what's the amino acid profile?

They're typically going to email it to you and they have it like Ready to go. Cause they email it out all the time, but just something to be, and if they don't give it to you or they won't send it to you, don't work for that company. Don't buy their products anymore. But yeah, that's ultimately what you want to work with.

And it goes, like I said both ways. A lot of people listening to this, they could care less because they're like, I don't care. I have, I take way I'm good with way. And I think that's another big takeaway for me is. Way sits at the top. Like way is the king. You know what I mean? I'm not arguing that.

I just can't have it. And so now I'm trying to find the best alternative. To me, there's no argument. Even if I looked at this study, and I was like, okay, plants just as good as [00:20:00] way. If I could have way, I would still just have way. Because I know that it's... Just the most digestible, and to be honest, it outperformed the plant in the other, the secondary outcome, which was the blood acid aminoprofile, which might matter.

Like what you're saying in a longer duration study, like that might become important. So if you can just take away or what's above all of the supplementation, eat your protein eat chicken after your workout or a beef or fish or whatever you can. And that's ultimately going to be the best source of protein that you can have.

Joe: This study, did it change your thoughts, views or anything on way on, on the P proteins of those, because you mentioned the half and a half more before, but did you change your thoughts on

Jerred: anything on like the types of different, like the types of, or

Joe: just how you will, how you'll supplement your, because you do pre protein.

Jerred: Yeah, no I'm good with just sticking with pea [00:21:00] protein because I've seen how much leucine is in pea protein. I have seen wheat protein becoming a bigger and bigger thing I feel like, three years ago, it wasn't even a thing. Maybe you could find it on some fringe supplement company website and now wheat protein is gaining a lot of traction.

Because it has, it is effective and it has a decent amino acid profile. But I just haven't looked into it enough. My thought is and this is coming from an uneducated standpoint because I haven't looked into it. But wheat protein to me is gluten. That's what gluten is.

It's a wheat, it's protein found in gluten. So is this like a, the most concentrated form of gluten that you can get that we're ingesting and we're still we don't know about gluten. You know what I mean? I'm not scared of gluten. My wife has to be gluten free for medical reasons.

But, I just don't know if I, if it is pure gluten. And I could be wrong on that. Like I said, I haven't, I have not looked at it at all. I'm just A plus B equals C here. I don't, but I haven't fully looked into it. I don't know if I'd want to [00:22:00] consume wheat protein. And corn, I didn't even know corn was a, to be honest, until this study, I'd never heard of corn protein being a thing.

Like the supplement I'm taking, the carbohydrate comes from corn, but the protein is coming from pea. It's a mixture of a corn starch and a pea protein, yeah, it makes me want to look into wheat and corn a little bit more, but I don't know if I'd switch to either one of those as my primary supplement.

Joe: Now have you, and it seems like an untapped market, but have you tried much with egg white protein? Because we did learn that eggs have a ton of leucine, and one of the egg white proteins that I looked up has a lot of leucine as well.

Jerred: But most of them are the best. I say if you look at protein has like digestibility scores and then there's like usability scores.

I say way is the best, but actually I think everything is in comparison to the egg. Egg is the true gold standard. And I don't mean that in a supplementation standpoint. I just mean like in consumption standpoint, like there's always a little bit of a little bit of [00:23:00] waste in the digestive process when you consume stuff.

And beef has a really high digestibility and usability index, but egg, just like your body uses everything. Like it's just the best. So the only reason I haven't taken egg white protein, cause I have looked into it is I am afraid of developing an egg allergy because I know that's like a crazy like crazy cautionary thing, but my long story short with dairy, I consumed the hell out of dairy for 15 years.

And I mean like a lot of dairy, maybe a gallon a day at some times of milk, like just crushing it, have whey protein too. Like I consumed so much dairy. It was my primary protein source, 15 years later, my body hates dairy, right? And so this is all like, just again, like we were talking about nutrition last week, being individualized.

I didn't, I think that's really odd. It's like I ate [00:24:00] myself into an allergy or something and I can't like recover from it. And so I don't want that to happen with eggs. I really enjoy eating eggs. I have probably about three eggs per day. That's generally my breakfast almost every single day. So I don't want to also start taking an egg white protein and then find out in a couple of years, Oh, guess what?

You can't have milk or eggs ever again. Like I just, I don't want that to ever be the case. So that's the only reason I have it. And it's just, it's really just for my own, my own logic. I'm like, if I consume too much of this, will it be a problem? Because a lot of people do have an allergy to eggs which can be developed or.

He could be born with it. So that's why I've stayed away from egg white protein.

Joe: Yeah. And it's not really hard to, because almost every egg white protein I see is unflavored anyway. So you don't, you pretty much only be able to use in a smoothie, not just like a normal protein shake. We've the only time we have egg white protein here, but we just use it in baking just to up the protein content of anything where I'd be baking like protein waffles, that's

Jerred: about it.

Yeah, and that's eggs are such a great source of [00:25:00] protein and it's generally easy to eat your eggs most of the time without having to... More enjoyable. Yeah, a lot more enjoyable But yeah, that's my take on that. Do you have anything else? Not really.

Joe: I'm I do weigh. I'm we are 100% Switched to or pretty much 100% switched to earth fed muscle This is a company that we do, which you know, not a sponsor, but they have delicious and what would they it's all got grass fed way and they're loose scenes.

Good. So other than that sometimes we've had, we'll get on it just on a silver, more

Jerred: expensive. Yeah, Ana had a pretty solid vegan supplement for a while, but, I don't know if they stopped making it, or, I don't know, and that's another thing that I look into with these mixtures, these blends just go ask the company if you are taking a vegan or vegetarian supplement just go ask, how much...

What's your amino acid profile look at it see if they if it all makes sense But then when we're mixing like five or six [00:26:00] different plants to try and get it That's where I become a little bit less interested in it I think I'd rather just take like a more pure source like the one I'm taking now is All pea protein is where the protein is derived from.

But that's just a personal preference. So takeaway for the garage gym athlete eat your protein. If you can 80% of your protein should be eaten in the form of animal protein, if you are cool with that, if not eat a lot of plants, you will have to eat more, supplementation. Whey is going to be the best protein supplement that you can take, hands down whey protein isolate most of the time you can try some of these other blends, but that's typically the best and then you can look into plant proteins from there, just make sure you're not going to even have to check with whey protein don't, you don't have to email your supplement company and be like, hey, does my whey have two grams of leucine No, it has it off the charts amount of leucine in it.

Like you don't have to worry about It probably has four grams. So you don't have to worry about it. It's hitting that two threshold that's hard and plant based stuff So yeah Then just looking at pea protein specifically [00:27:00] or just finding if you are Getting a blend look into a blend that has at least two grams of leucine and you'll be good to go.

You'll hit the muscle protein synthesis that you're looking for And you won't have any problems, gaining muscle when you're not on animal protein. Yep. Cool. That's it. That's it for this one. We will get out of here. If you are not a part of garage, gym, athlete, head over to garage, gym, athlete.

com, start a free trial. We'd love to have you in the community for everybody who is a part of the community. Thanks for being here, sticking around, doing the training. We really do appreciate it. Remember if you don't kill comfort will kill you.

Like these ideas? You need GGA. 

Garage Gym Athlete is the "tip of the spear" for our training. We identify training weaknesses, solve them through our program design, and validate it with science. 

For ongoing daily training that exploits everything we have discusses here and more, check out Garage Gym Athlete.  

Start FREE Trial