National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health
Due to its high leucine content, rapid digestibility, and ability to maximally stimulate MPS, whey protein is a common choice for protein supplementation among active and athletic populations.
While whey protein supplementation appears to enhance adaptations to resistance training, not all athletes are able or willing to consume whey or animal proteins.
Athletes adhering to a plant-based diet or those who present with other dietary restrictions often turn to soy or other plant proteins as a comparable substitute for whey a recent investigation demonstrated that 9-months of resistance training produced significantly larger gains in lean body mass in a whey supplemented group compared with soy.
There is continued interest in other protein sources which show potential as a comparable alternative to whey. Recently, Babault et al.,  reported that pea protein supplementation produced similar increases in muscular size and strength in comparison to a whey supplement following elbow flexor and extensor resistance training. While these results appear promising for those adhering to plant-based diets, this study did not utilize the full-body dynamic resistance training that is representative of most athletic training. As such, findings from this investigation may be limited in their practical application to individuals engaged in rigorous training.
Some subgroups of HIFT communities adhere to firm dietary practices, some of which require the removal of certain high-quality protein sources (e.g., dairy products) from one’s diet . Subsequently, HIFT athletes commonly turn to other plant-based protein sources (e.g., pea, rice, soy) to meet their macronutrient goals and support training adaptations.
Regardless of the potential digestibility differences between supplements, leucine similarities may explain why we saw no differences between groups for training outcomes . This was demonstrated in an investigation where the addition of BCAAs to a soy supplement further augmented strength gains in elderly patients above that of a soy supplement alone
An eight week pilot study compared the effects of whey and pea protein supplementation in conjunction with 8-weeks of HIFT [High Intensity Functional Training] on strength, body composition, muscle thickness, peak force, and daily workout performance. Based on previous findings, the study hypothesized that similar adaptations to HIFT would occur with whey and pea protein treatments. Additionally, the study also hypothesized that HIFT would produce improvements in maximal strength, sport-specific performance, muscle thickness, isometric force production and body composition in HIFT trained participants.
The results showed that whey and pea supplement groups both experienced significant improvements in maximal strength as a result of the resistance training program. However; no significant differences in were observed between whey and pea groups. No significant improvements in peak force were observed as a result of the training intervention, with no significant differences between groups. There were no significant improvements found for daily workouts as a result of 8-weeks of HIFT training with no differences found between whey and pea protein conditions.
The study reported no significant changes in body composition measurements of any kind following HIFT training regardless of supplemental condition. Moreover, there were no significant increase in muscle size in either groups as a result of 8-weeks of HIFT. There was no significant main effect for body mass or body fat percentage following the 8-week intervention with no differences found between groups, and muscle thickness remained unchanged with no differences found between groups.
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