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The Turner Twins: Plant vs. Animal Protein Shakes Study

{In this guest blog, The Turner Twins @theturnertwiins describe the results of their 12 week study finding out the difference between animal protein shakes and Vivo Life's vegan protein shake PERFORM}. 


The start of a 12-week fitness study is always filled with anticipation and excitement. When discussing this experiment, we got a huge amount of questions, professional interest, and opinions from friends and the wider fitness community. It’s not really surprising: comparing plant products against their animal counterparts will always generate considerable curiosity (and many heated debates). We did a full study last year comparing a three-month vegan diet against a meat diet and the resulting article went viral. People from all over the world reached out with very passionate opinions and views around the topic. The aim when we conduct these experiments is to simply highlight any differences when comparing the two products - it’s up to you what you do with our latest findings.

This study was a 12-week endurance programme to help find the performance differences between Vivo Life’s plant-based protein PERFORM and an off-the-high-street animal-based protein (and when we say protein, we mean post-gym protein shakes). Throughout the experiment we ate roughly the same calories and foods thanks to Mindful Chef food delivered weekly; but the key difference of the diet was that Hugo consumed the basic high street animal protein (post-workout shake), while Ross had Vivo Life's PERFORM

When taking Vivo Life’s protein shake, Ross knew he was only consuming high quality plant-based ingredients, and avoiding a lot of toxic ingredients that contaminate many protein powders. Lots of big supplement brands skip important checks, resulting in significant levels of pesticides, herbicides, hormones and heavy metals in their powders. All of Vivo Life’s products are third party tested for contaminants, to avoid the alarming levels of arsenic, mercury and lead that have been found in some of the most popular protein products on the market. Hugo’s protein choice had no such guarantees.

Before the study began, we took Boditrax scans at our Virgin Active gym which provided whole body stats of our physiological footprint such as fat percentage, muscle mass, weight etc, so we could track changes throughout the experiment. Other areas monitored included physiological tests such as bench press, press ups, deadlift, VO2 submaximal and pull ups. The important thing with all these tests is that we did them together throughout the 12-weeks, so we could directly compare our results.

With such a busy schedule over the three months of this experiment we knew there were going to be moments when we couldn't make it to the gym, either because of work or social commitments, or one of our week-long adventures somewhere around the British Isles. Again, the main thing here was we both had the same time in and out of the gym. Consistency was the name of the game.

What we found during the experiment:

In terms of the products we were consuming post workout, they essentially had the same macro profile, as the plant-based powder packs 25g of protein plus 6g of BCAAs - so, all in all, we weren’t expecting to see a huge difference in results between the two of us. However, the biggest difference we noticed with the two products was taste. Whey protein, a waste product from the cheesemaking process, used to be used as cheap fertiliser, so it’s often packed with a load of artificial ingredients and sweeteners to cover the taste. PERFORM is made from oyellow pea protein and cold pressed hemp, natural whole food flavours like raw cacao powder and freeze dried berries, and there’s no artificial additives. We noticed that the animal protein did indeed taste far more synthetic than the plant-based protein. Hugo found it tasted very sweet and very artificial.

As the study progressed, we noticed our Boditrax profiles changing due to our body adapting to the training and load. It’s interesting to see how our profiles (see graphs) changed at similar rates and generally followed each other. This was something we expected to happen, but seeing it after weeks of training was very rewarding. It was good to see that plant protein had similar effects to the animal protein, as now we know that we can use an environmentally friendly and animal friendly powder without compromising the results of our training. Unlike dairy, which is responsible for over 18% of the world’s carbon footprint, pea production has no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil or forests, and hemp (aka “nature’s purifier”) is a more effective sequester of carbon dioxide than trees - so by improving his health with supplementation, Ross was also benefiting the environment.

Our goal with this training was to drop a little weight but increase our overall strength, meaning our efficiency increased and our chance of success on a long expedition improves.

The Training: 

Our endurance training consisted of either low weight, high reps or very high weight, very low reps. We like to stay in the high rep ranges and the movements are always functional. Compound or complex movements make time in the gym far more efficient. As we are not training specifically for an upcoming expedition, general health and fitness was the goal of this programme. Below is an example from one of our training days.

Day 2 example:

 

 

Our expedition fitness levels are neither extremely high nor extremely unhealthy. It's finding that happy balance between conditioning our bodies to a level where extreme adventures and expeditions become easier, versus carrying too much muscle mass where you need to eat a huge number of calories (it’s very hard to carry and eat thousands of calories per day when you are on an expedition).

The Results:

At the end of our 12-week study it was clear that it didn’t matter all that much where the protein came from. Plant-based protein has the same impact on your training as animal protein.

All three graphs highlight that there is a link between our training and what our bodies do over the duration of the 12-week programme. There are a few data points that look strange on each graph - either far too high or too low compared to the other date points. If you take these out and then take an average for both of us, there is a strong correlation between our results. Ideally, we’d like to do this study for 6 months, if not a year, but in our line of work that’s not realistic.

Importantly, we’re not saying this study is absolute. There’s a huge amount more testing we could do to uncover more data and results. It’s only a little look into the top line results of this particular study, which from our numerous 12-weeks studies we’ve already done, we conclude there’s little difference in results and performance when drinking either plant or animal protein. This is in-line with other research, which has also shown that plant-based proteins are just as effective as whey protein in promoting gains in muscle size and improving body composition.

Why use plant-based?

The old idea that plant-based protein is inferior to animal protein is completely out-dated. Made from hemp and pea protein, Vivo Life’s PERFORM has a complete amino acid profile the same as animal protein.

There’s a few other advantages to using a plant-based protein. It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that a lot of people are intolerant to lactose, and even soy. By using a protein made from plants (like hemp and peas), you’ll find it far easier to digest. Some proteins, like PERFORM, also included digestive enzymes, to help even further. 

The reason we used Vivo Life in this study was because we felt they were the highest quality product on the plant-based market, and we like their ethics. They shipped everything in carbon neutral delivery, and all of their scoops and bags are compostable or recyclable. We also much prefer the natural taste of the PERFORM protein over whey.  

Boditrax results and tests

Start

 

 

 

ROSS

(Plant based)

HUGO

(Animal based)

 

Before

 After

Before

 After

 

reps

reps

reps

reps

Push ups (max):

34

43

25

45

Pull ups (max):

9

10

8

11

Sub Max bench press (80kgs):

5

7

4

5

Max weight deadlift:

120

140

120

130

Bike VO2 sub max (Level 15): Heart rate

180

 

176

186

 

180

 

 

 

 

 

 Body weight

 

 Fat percentage

 

 

 Muscle mass


 

 Before

 

 

 

 After

 

 

 

Sources

https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-014-0064-5

https://www.goodhemp.com/hemp-hub/environmental-benefits-of-hemp-how-good-is-it/