Vegetarian diets and muscle growth
Tweet: "Vegetarian diets aren't optimal for muscle growth: see my comment in 'Book Review: Muscle Gaining Secrets'.
Comment: This was in response to someone who asked me about data for my claim that vegetarian diets aren't optimal for muscle gains. I brought it up because Ferruggia advocates a vegetarian diet - or so I thought. He actually advocates a vegan diet, which is even worse. Anyway, you can see my response in comments, but the gist of it is this:
Studies have concluded that a protein intake of 2 g/kg body weight is needed to optimize muscle gains. However, these studies are based on non-vegetarian diets. Why is this important? It's not only about total protein intake, it's about the BCAA content of the diet. BCAAs, and particularly leucine, are the amino acids most intimately involved in controlling muscle protein synthesis. BCAA content in relation to total calorie content of different foods:
Whey protein: 25% BCAA
Animal protein: 17-18% BCCA
Egg white protein: 18% BCAA
Soy protein: 15-18% BCAA
Cottage cheese: 10-13% BCAA
Beans and peas: 4-5% BCAA
Nuts: 2% BCAA. Speaking of nuts, they're probably the most overrated food deemed "healthy" by the mainstream. I talked about this in "Scorch through your fat loss plateau".
As you can see, plant protein doesn't rank very high in terms of BCAA content. It's likely that a vegetarian diet containing 2 g/kg protein would have a much lower BCAA content than a 2 g/kg protein non-vegetarian diet. Meaning that, in order to get the same effect, you'd have to eat more total protein to reach the same BCAA content than a non-vegetarian diet. Unless you're planning on consuming tons of soy protein (which might have adverse effects).
Now, for a ovo-lacto vegetarian with a decent base of nutritional knowledge it wouldn't be too hard to get quality protein by adding a lot of cottage cheese, egg protein and even whey protein. The real issue as I see it is mainly with vegans and some vegetarians that don't have a clue about what sources to get quality protein from.