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Scientific Updates /

The muscle power of soya protein

5 November 2018


Original research

Soya protein: your plant-based partner for building muscle strength

Study overview

Amongst athletes there exists a common misconception that animal-based proteins, particularly whey, are more effective than soya protein at building muscle mass and strength. This speculation stems from findings of acute studies which show whey protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to a greater extent than plant-based proteins. However, acute differences in muscle synthesis do not reflect longer term impact on muscle strength.

A 2018 meta-analysis of nine randomised controlled trials compared the longer-term effects of soya protein versus animal-based proteins (whey, beef, milk or dairy), on muscle mass and strength in combination with resistance exercise. Data from 266 individuals were analysed. The majority were men aged between 18 to 70 years.

Key findings

The researchers observed from their analysis that:

  • All the studies found significant increases in muscle strength and muscle mass in response to resistance training after at least 6 weeks of intervention, irrespective of protein source

  • There was no difference in muscle strength between individuals supplemented with soya protein or with animal-based proteins

  • The main driver for building muscle strength is the combination of adequate protein intake alongside resistance training

The results of this meta-analysis demonstrate that soya protein supplementation produces similar gains in strength and muscle mass compared to animal protein.

According to Mark Messina, PhD, the lead author of the study:

Soya protein is a good option for meeting protein needs not only because of its ability to promote gains in muscle mass and strength but also because soya protein modestly lowers blood cholesterol and soya foods are environmentally friendly.


Soya foods and soya protein are an environmentally friendly and effective plant-based option for building muscle mass and strength.


  1. Messina M, Lynch H, Dickinson JM, et al. No Difference Between the Effects of Supplementing with Soy Protein Versus Animal Protein on Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Response to Resistance Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2018; 28:674-85.

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