Bodybuilders need a new, better source of protein.
Seeking to add muscle, Europeans have turned to protein supplementation but learnt that animal and plant-based sources have limitations, particularly for the many consumers who demand natural, clean label ingredients. Here’s where yeast comes in.
The fact that yeast protein is a natural, clean label ingredient that does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) is central to its appeal to European consumers. A survey of 13,200 people across 14 European countries found 67% of people read the ingredient lists on supplement labels, and 56% of people base their purchasing decisions on whether a product is labeled as organic, natural, or GMO.1
The scrutiny is shaping the market. Europe is the leading market for launches of clean label foods and beverages, reflecting the presence of a large number of consumers who base their purchasing decisions on ingredient lists.2–4 Animal and plant proteins are unable to meet all the demands of consumers who want to increase their muscle without compromising their ethical, environmental, and health values.
For animal proteins, some of the key limitations relate to the rapid rise of veganism, vegetarianism, and flexitarianism. Europe is driving the shift toward plant-based diets. A survey of more than 7,500 people in 10 European countries found that almost half of respondents had reduced their meat consumption.5 Almost 40% of people planned to consume less meat, and 30% of respondents were actively reducing their dairy consumption. People who consumed exclusively plant-based diets made up 7% of the dataset and a further 30% of people followed a flexitarian diet.
The figures represent a barrier to the growth of products that include proteins derived from animals, including the whey proteins that are the current gold standard. Whey is considered the gold standard because it is a complete, quickly digested protein that is richer in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and leucine than many other protein sources.
However, because whey is taken from the watery part of milk that separates in cheese production, it is not suitable for all consumers. Those who are reducing and eliminating dairy from their diets would refuse to buy products that include the animal protein altogether and prefer a plant-based alternative.
The limitations of plant proteins
The industry has responded to the concerns about animal proteins by extracting proteins from soy, pea, hemp, rice, and other plants. Yet, plant proteins have their own clean label problems. Proteins such as wheat, soya, and pea use unsustainable amounts of land, vary in cost and availability depending on the weather, and for some consumers raise concerns about heavy metals, pesticide residues, and GMOs.
Plant proteins also fall short of the amino acid content, digestibility, and protein synthesis capacity of whey, with research showing that they cannot match the composition and effects of animal proteins.
Across multiple studies, researchers have shown that plant-based proteins lack essential amino acids and leucine and may also be incompletely digested in the gut, leading to negative effects on metabolism and immune responses. The studies suggest plant-based proteins may fail to support the improved physical performance, fat reduction, and other positive outcomes associated with whey protein.
The limitations of animal and plant-based proteins has left many consumers without good choices. For the large number of Europeans who want healthy, clean label products there have been two options: use animal proteins despite their concerns about the environment, animal welfare, and contamination; or use a plant-based protein with a suboptimal profile that has its own sustainability and health issues.
Now, consumers have a third, better option: yeast protein.
How yeast protein addresses an unmet need
Nutritional yeast is often sold as a food product and marketed for its effect on the immune system and gut health. This deactivated form of yeast has other important properties though. Angel Yeast, the largest yeast extract supplier in the world, is bringing those properties to the bodybuilding market with AngeoPro.
The microbial fermentation process used to make AngeoPro is sustainable and scalable, unlike the crops grown for plant-based proteins, and delivers a reliable, guaranteed supply of protein regardless of variables such as the weather. The resulting yeast protein is natural, healthy, and has a neutral taste. AngeoPro is free from the allergen concerns associated with some plant proteins, such as soy, and can meet the demand for products with a clean label.
Containing more than 70% high quality protein, AngeoPro has a similar digestibility and leucine content to whey protein and, as a “slow protein,” it provides a slow and continuous supply of amino acids. The attributes, coupled to higher total BCAA content than whey protein, show AngeoPro is comparable to the gold standard animal protein and superior to plant-based proteins.
For bodybuilders, the attributes of AngeoPro translate into muscle gain, as Angel Yeast demonstrated in a double-blind, randomized controlled trial in 79 healthy adults aged over 40 years in Australia. Subjects in the study received 40g of AngeoPro, whey protein, or placebo a day and participated in a resistance training program that targeted major muscle groups for eight weeks.
In subjects with inadequate dietary protein intake, AngeoPro and whey protein significantly increased lean mass and muscle strength compared to placebo. The yeast protein matched the gold standard, with the max bench press increasing by 5.78kg and 5.77kg, respectively, in the two active treatment arms. In the placebo group, the max bench press increased by 2.59kg.
The study provides clinical validation of AngeoPro, revealing the yeast protein to be as effective as the gold standard animal protein at increasing muscle mass in conjunction with exercise in older adults. The data differentiate AngeoPro from less effective forms of plant protein.
Using yeast protein in foods and beverages
AngeoPro’s attributes support its use in products targeting the natural wellness market. With its clean taste, yeast protein is used in high-protein bakery products, plant-based sauces, plant-based meat, beverages, and other foods and drinks aimed at people who want to naturally increase their muscles or are interested in nutritional value, digestion, absorption, amino acid score, and more.
The wide range of applications creates opportunities for brands across the food and beverage industry to target bodybuilders and other people who want to increase their consumption of protein. By leveraging the benefits AngeoPro has over both animal and plant proteins, manufacturers can now provide natural, clean label products without compromising on muscle-enhancing performance.
1. Food Supplements Europe. https://foodsupplementseurope.org/test-who-takes-food-supplements-and-why/.
2. Vargas, M. C. A. & Simsek, S. Clean Label in Bread. Foods 10, (2021).
3. Devenyns, J. Clean labels are more important than brand, study finds. Food Dive https://www.fooddive.com/news/clean-labels-are-more-important-than-brand-study-finds/539979/ (2018).
4. Media, C. Fi Europe 2019: Clean label trend prevalent across industry. .foodingredientsfirst.com/ https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/fi-europe-2019-clean-label-trend-prevalent-across-industry.html (2019).
5. Plant-based foods in Europe: What do consumers want? Smart Protein Project https://smartproteinproject.eu/consumer-attitudes-plant-based-food-report/ (2021).