Anabolic properties of plant-based proteins

Project leader: Prof Luc van Loon
Time frame: 2016 – 2020
Project code: 16NH02
Project login (project members only)



More than half of the total amount of dietary protein that is consumed by humans worldwide is of plant origin, with plant-based proteins providing up to 80% of dietary protein consumed in less-developed regions. Overall, it is assumed that plant-based proteins are less potent in stimulating post-prandial muscle protein synthesis. However, the anabolic properties of the main plant-based protein sources have hardly been assessed. This project will investigate the anabolic properties of a selection of plant-based protein sources and of a key reference protein. After evaluation of the nitrogen content and amino acid profiles of the main plant-based proteins, a selection will be tested for their capacity to stimulate post-prandial muscle protein synthesis in vivo in humans.

Furthermore, protein blends will be defined and tested for their combined anabolic properties.

This project brought together key players in the nutrition industry to evaluate the anabolic properties of plant-based proteins, and to develop novel concepts for more sustainable protein consumption in both health and disease.

Key objective

  • To assess the anabolic properties of key plant-based protein sources and specific protein blends

Main deliverables

  • Definition of nitrogen content and amino acid profile of a wide variety of plant-based proteins
  • Assessment of the anabolic responses to the ingestion of a selection of key plant-based proteins, a key reference protein, and their protein blends in vivo in humans
  • Deeper understanding of the anabolic properties of plant-based proteins in vivo in humans