What Is Mycoprotein?

Mycoprotein is a plant-based source of protein you might not have heard much about. Here's the 411 on this alternative protein source. 

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
3-minute read
Episode #443

Most plant-based proteins provide significantly less protein per calorie than meat. You have to eat 450 calories worth of black beans to get the same amount of protein as you’d get in just 175 calories worth of chicken, for example. Like tofu, mycoprotein does a good job of delivering a decent amount of protein for relatively few calories.

But when we’re talking about plant-based proteins, we also need to think about protein quality. Protein researcher Nancy Rodriguez has proposed that we think of protein sources not just in terms of the total amount of protein they provide but also in terms of their essential amino acid density–or what percentage of your daily EAA requirements a serving provides.

Mycoprotein does provide all of the essential amino acids but in smaller amounts than you’d get from chicken or beef. A 3-ounce serving of mycoprotein gives you about a quarter of your daily requirement of EAAs, about the same as a similar amount of scrambled eggs. That’s only about half as much as you’d get from a serving of chicken or beef, but almost twice what you’d get from a serving of tofu.

See also: Building muscle on a plant based diet.

Mycoprotein is also a decent source of fiber, with about 5 grams per serving. The particular type of fiber in mycoprotein (beta glucans) is of interest to cholesterol researchers because it appears to be particularly helpful in lowering cholesterol.

Here’s a table showing how two of the more popular Quorn products stack up to chicken, beef, eggs, and tofu.

Thanks to Becca for suggesting this week’s topic. I must admit, I didn’t know much about mycoprotein so I was glad to have a reason to do some research. If you enjoy the flavor and texture of these meat substitutes, they look like a healthy option for adding good quality protein to your meatless meals. I think there’s a lot to be said, however, for getting your protein from a variety of sources. So be sure to mix it up!


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.