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Is Insect Protein Effective?

Insects can be a great source of protein.

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Insect protein bug on a fork

Eating bugs? Sure! The consumption of insects is already common for millions of people in Asian and African countries. Now, a new study in The American Journal of Clinical  Nutrition shows that insect protein can be just as effective as milk-derived protein for building muscle.

Researchers at the Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands conducted a double-blind randomized controlled investigation in which 24 young men ingested 30 grams of protein from either mealworm powder or milk protein concentrate after a bout of resistance training. Tests found no significant difference in protein digestion, amino acid absorption or muscle protein synthesis rates between the two options.

In the future, rather flavorless insect powder could serve as a more sustainable source of high-quality protein for individuals with higher protein needs, such as weightlifters and older people struggling to maintain lean body mass. If the whole idea doesn’t bug you too much, the fitness crowd could consider blending the critters into their post-gym smoothies.

See also: Pig’s Blood for Protein?


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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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