When you think about potatoes, you’d most likely think “carbs,” but there is much more in a potato than you think. They are also full of proteins. A study published in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise (2022) has proven that proteins in potatoes can help your muscles synthesize proteins, especially when you’re resting or recovering from exercise. Essentially, this means that proteins in potatoes can help your body develop muscles faster, including when you’re recovering from a heavy workout routine or resting. How amazing is that! Of course, it can be hard to believe, so here is some of the science behind the study and the results.
Animal Protein Vs. Plant-Based Protein
It’s a well-known fact that animal proteins are much more effective at building muscles than plant-based proteins. However, with diets becoming more plant-based because of significant factors like sustainability, global warming, and health, we’re now looking for ways to help our workout regimes without resorting to meat. That’s why recent studies, such as the study mentioned above, by van Loon (2022), are so critical.
It’s based on the idea that concentrated potato proteins can help synthesize muscle proteins. This is a significant breakthrough because it means that instead of relying on meats, those who are climate and health-conscious can have their daily dose of protein to help build muscles, especially if they’re undergoing intense workouts or if their everyday lifestyle is an active one.
How Does Protein Become Muscle Mass?
If you’ve been to the gym, spoken to personal trainers, or joined a health club and consulted a nutritionist or dietician, they’ll tell you the same thing. Eat more proteins and exercise. So, what do you do? You include proteins in everything. Use protein powder in your smoothies and milkshakes, increase your meat intake, and even take protein supplements.
But what does protein do? Essentially, the proteins you eat contain amino acids, which break down in your body to help form skeletal muscle proteins. These lean muscle proteins are essential in building muscle mass (Medical News Today, 2022). So, that’s why it’s crucial for anyone looking to increase their muscle mass to increase their protein intake.
Why The Focus On Potato Protein?
While it’s not as effective as animal protein, potato proteins are still highly effective in synthesizing muscle proteins. Potatoes only contain 1.5% proteins of their fresh weight. However, when extracted from their juice residues, which are usually used for animal feed or discarded, it can be as potent as proteins from milk.
As the study shows, the anabolic processes that develop muscle proteins were almost the same in the ingestion of potato proteins as in the ingestion of milk proteins (Eurekalert, 2022). This means that those looking to turn to a plant-based diet can do so and still get the protein they need without resorting to synthetic-made protein. They’ll be able to naturally generate muscle mass by taking a concentrated dose of potato proteins.
What Does The Research Say?
The study by Van Loon and his team at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands focused on the effect of 30g of potato proteins on the synthesis of muscle proteins in 24 healthy, young males. They found that after 5 hours, from the moment they ingested the dose of potato proteins, the muscle mass had increased at the same, if not a similar, amount as milk protein does.
Another research in a similar field was conducted by Sara Oikawa and her team, at McMaster University in Canada, in 2020, on the effects of potato proteins on women, and the results were similar. There was more muscle protein synthesis in the groups that ingested protein and exercised than in the control group (Nutrients, 2020). This shows that potato proteins are more potent than other plant-based proteins to help support and develop muscle mass.
Were There Limitations?
As with most health-related studies, there were many limitations to both. In the case of Van Loon, the research was conducted on males only. So, there may be differences in results if a similar analysis was done with women or with a mixture of both. The same can be said for Oikawa’s study, as the research was conducted on women.
Both studies were conducted on healthy and young participants, most between the ages of 20 and 30. So, the effect of potato proteins on muscle protein synthesis in older or younger generations can be different, and research has yet to be conducted on these age groups.
The Difference Between Whole Foods And Synthetic Supplements
For both studies, despite being overall in favor of using potato proteins, the final verdict is to consume whole foods and continue the regular exercise. Although both studies have found that concentrated doses of potato proteins can help, it is not always the case. Sometimes the best way to help increase muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis is to eat a healthy and balanced diet and exercise regularly so that your base muscle protein synthesis can naturally grow.
Of course, while taking supplements can help, it is only aid to a healthy lifestyle, and the only reason someone would consume them would be the convenience it offers. In the end, as Dr. Stuart Philips, from the McMaster University in Canada claims, “[…]food trumps a supplement.” (Medical News Today, 2022).
If you need that extra protein boost and want to turn towards a plant-based diet, why not try taking potato protein supplements to aid you. Of course, as Dr. Philips says, nothing is better than eating whole and healthy meals, but if you require a boost or are not getting enough, these supplements can help. However, before you take any, please consult your doctor first to ensure it is safe for you to take. Otherwise, incorporate more potatoes into your diet. It may not contain the same amount of protein as a supplement, but it still has enough to help support muscle development in your body.