MMA Fighter Study Shows Plant-Based Protein Is Equal To Whey

The plant-based protein worked 'just as well' for building and maintaining muscle
Bantamweight fighter Andre Soukhamthath 'loved' the brown-rice protein (Photo: Instagram)

A study conducted with MMA fighters has shown that brown-rice protein and whey protein had the same effects on building and maintaining muscle mass.

The study, titled The Body Composition Effects of Extra Protein in Elite Mixed Martial Artists Undergoing Frequent Training Over a Six-Week Period, was led by Douglas Kalman, PhD, RD, FACN, FISSN and Sports Nutritionist Alison Escalante RD out of Florida International University. 


Over six weeks, the study compared two groups of fighters - called 'Team Plant' and 'Team Animal' - and used ultrasound technology to calculate their body composition.

Each participant consumed three scoops of protein a day, while maintaining their usual diet and training regimen.

This research was the first time a comparison of plant protein and animal-based whey protein was studied specifically in pro athletes.

'Works just as well'

Dr. Kalman said: "The study concluded that supplementing the diet of elite-level mixed martial artists with an average of 0.41 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight helps to maintain their lean body mass while undergoing high volume and intensity training. 

"There were no additional benefits of one protein source over the other as both whey and rice protein provided statistically similar results.

"In addition, we tended to see that body fat was reduced in the rice protein group as well while muscle was maintained."

UFC fighter and hunter Chas Skelly wants to try the vegan protein for himself (Photo: Instagram)

'Loved' it

UFC Bantamweight Fighter Andre Soukhamthath - a member of 'Team Plant' - said he loved the brown-rice protein, and that it kept him four to five pounds lighter.

He added: "When you're on a diet and you're watching your carbs, you're low on energy. 

"That's where the plant protein came in. It's a protein that gave me energy and made me feel full so I didn't want to add to my diet."

'No doubt that it works'

Even members of ‘Team Animal’ are interested in the plant protein - UFC Featherweight Chas Skelly wants to try it himself.

He said: "Obviously the results are there, so there's no doubt that it works."

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Emily Court is a passionate ethical vegan from Eastern Canada. She is a Challenge 22 Mentor, Digital Writer, and experienced animal advocate driven by issues of animal liberation and social justice. She studied at Dalhousie University, where her thesis highlighted intercultural and gender relations. She is an established public speaker, writer, and world traveller with a drive to provide a voice to those who might not otherwise have one. You can follow her on Instagram @emily.j.court or on Twitter @_EmilyJCourt_.

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