Could potato protein be the new pea protein? A new study shows the humble potato could provide muscle gains similar to animal protein (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2022. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002937).
Protein has been the foundation of Western diets for decades, and demand only continues to increase. Data from the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) and published in Food & Beverage Insider’s Protein Battleground digital magazine showed 77% of American adults consumed high-protein foods in the past year, up 22% from 2011. Nearly half (42%) want more protein in their diets.
Plant-based protein options continue to grab consumers’ attention, largely because plant protein options are perceived as being more sustainable, healthier and more environmentally friendly compared to their animal counterparts. In fact, 63% said they used plant-based protein in the past year, according to NMI’s data, and 16% want to add more plant protein sources to their diet.
However, plant protein options also must satisfy the functional benefits consumers seek, in addition to meeting the taste, texture and quality attributes that are needed to create animal protein-worthy competitors on the shelf.
The present study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and funded by the Alliance for Potato Research & Education, makes the case for potato protein as a muscle-building protein source that rivals animal-derived protein.
For the randomized, double blind, parallel-group study, 24 healthy, young males ingested either 30 grams of potato-derived protein or 30 grams of milk protein following resistance exercise. The researchers collected blood and muscle biopsies for five hours following protein ingestion to assess amino acid profiles and mixed muscle protein synthesis rates at rest and during recovery from exercise.
The results found the potato protein concentrate increased muscle protein synthesis rates at rest and during recovery. What’s more, muscle protein synthesis rates following potato protein intake matched the rates observed after ingesting the same amount of milk protein.
Despite the popularity of plant-based alternatives, researchers predict there’s a long way to go before plant-based options replace diet staples like meat. Ingredient innovation is one critical element to keeping the burgeoning market for plant-based foods and beverages strong and growing.