Insect derived proteins in sports nutrition

Insect derived proteins in sports nutrition: CENTURION

Consumption of sufficient dietary protein is fundamental to skeletal muscle mass maintenance and overall health. Conventional animal-based protein sources such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy are considered high-quality sources of dietary protein. However, the production of sufficient amounts of these conventional animal-based proteins to meet future global food demands will be challenging. Consequently, there is a great interest in more sustainable alternatives for these high-quality protein sources.

Edible insects have recently been proposed as a high quality source of dietary protein. Insects are produced on a more viable and sustainable commercial scale and, as such, may contribute to ensuring global food security. Recently, the consortium has shown that the protein content and amino acid composition of a wide variety of insect proteins do not differ from high-quality animal based proteins. Consequently, insect derived proteins seem to represent a protein source that combines high quality with a (more) sustainable production. Though insect proteins have been suggested as a solution to secure future global dietary protein needs, there are no data to support the bioavailability of insect derived proteins and their capacity to stimulate muscle protein synthesis rates in vivo in humans.

This project will evaluate the protein content, amino acid composition, and digestibility of mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus) derived protein in vivo in humans. Furthermore, it will assess the impact of ingesting mealworm derived protein on muscle protein synthesis rates during recovery from exercise in a group healthy men and women. Consequently, this project will determine the efficacy of using insect derived protein as a more sustainable, high quality protein source that can be used as an ingredient for sports or clinical nutrition products or for products (to be) developed as meat alternatives.

This research will acquire new knowledge (defined as fundamental research) on the human bioavailability of insect derived protein following ingestion, and its capacity to increase muscle protein synthesis during recovery from exercise in a relevant applied setting (defined as industrial research)
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
1 - 4
Time period
24 months