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Plant-Based or Animal-Based ---- Understanding Amino Acids, Protein and Building Muscle

Plant-Based or Animal-Based

Understanding Amino Acids, Protein and what works to Build Muscle

We learn early in life that Protein builds strong muscles and we need Protein to help our bodies grow. In fact; Protein builds and repairs not just Muscle but also bone, tissue, cartilage and it also helps with the development of our skin and is an important substance in our blood (plasma). But what is protein? Often it is thought of as a single nutrient and we believe that anything that contains protein will fill our protein and muscle building needs, but that is not the case. Protein levels vary from food to food but more importantly they vary in Amino Acids; Proteins are actually chains of assembled Amino Acids, and simply put Amino Acids are the molecular building blocks of Proteins.

There are 21 (some new studies suggest 22) Amino Acids that the body uses to assembledifferent chain combinations, and there can literally be thousands of different chain combinations. Each assembled chain becomes a protein that will be responsible for maintaining a part of body health. Below is a list of the 21 Amino Acids that the body uses to build the chains it needs.


• Alanine                 • Arginine            • Asparagine
• Aspartic acid        • Cysteine            • Glutamic acid
• Glutamine            • Glycine              • Histidine
• Isoleucine             • Leucine             • Lysine
• Methionine           • Phenylalanine   • Proline
• Selenocysteine     • Serine                • Threonine
• Tryptophan           • Tyrosine            • Valine

Of the above listed Amino Acids, the body produces 12 on its own, but there are 9 that it cannot produce, so it relies on high protein foods and/or supplements. These 9 Amino Acids are known as the Essential Amino Acids and they are:

1. Histidine              6. Phenylalanine
2. Isoleucine            7. Threonine
3. Leucine                8. Tryptophan
4. Lysine                  9. Valine
5. Methionine

Foods and Supplements that contain the 9 Essential Amino Acids are considered Complete Proteins, but like all proteins, complete protein foods will vary in amounts of Amino Acids. Often to ensure getting a good amount of the Amino Acids consumers turn to protein supplements and very commonly they turn to powders but can become confused by all the choices. 

There are several choices of each animal based and plant-based protein. The most popular, and best-known Animal based protein is Whey. Whey Protein is a dairy protein that has proven its muscle repair and growth abilities for many years. Whey Protein is considered the standard of proteins and other proteins are commonly compared to whey but not everyone can use Whey Protein, or any animal-based protein for that matter, and for those consumers there are plant-based proteins. What many people don’t realize is that there are 3 Amino Acids linked to muscle growth and repair and whey is strong in each:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

Leucine is the most essential in muscle protein synthesis but teamed with Isoleucine and Valine 
the 3 together are the muscle building team. When we speak about Branch Chain Amino Acids 
we speak about these 3.
Each type of “Complete Protein” food or Supplement, whether animal or plant, contains different levels of these Amino Acids. With this in mind, and knowing Whey is proven, proteins with lesser values than Whey Protein are commonly blended together to meet the Amino Acid values found in whey.
There is a short list of plant proteins that on their own can compare:

  • Quinoa
  • Hemp
  • Buckwheat
  • Soy

But there are other plant proteins that can be blended with each other to form a stronger or more complete Amino Acid profile. These blends may also offer additional benefits such as fiber, vitamins C, A, and E, folate, and magnesium as they can be hard to come by in animal proteins but are abundant in many plant sources. Two Common Plant blends are:

  • Pea and Rice
  • Pea and Pumpkin 

Plant proteins can be as effective at building muscle as animal proteins when it is understood what builds muscle. We have put together an Amino Acid Comparison sheet to help you make your own blends to build muscle. This sheet can be viewed on our website in our news section titled "Plant and Animal Based Amino Acids Comparison Sheet" or you may request a separate copy by e-mailing us; lori@loannenterprises or calling Paul at 443 604 1441 and requesting a copy.

We hope you find this information helpful and we would love to answer any questions you have.

Thank you

LoAnn Enterprises