Over the past few years, there’s been a raging debate over whether elite athletes — such as bodybuilders and Strongmen — can compete while eating a plant-based diet. People like Nimai Delgado and Patrik Babamouian seem to be proof that you don’t need ground beef and scrambled eggs to find success in those fields, but a new study has pointed to animal-based protein as the king of aminos.

Scientists at King’s College London found that, on a gram-by-gram basis, animal proteins are more effective in supporting the maintenance of muscle mass, especially as people continue to age. The findings were presented at Future Physiology 2020 — a virtual conference of physiologists.

As we age, our muscle mass decreases due to a reduction in muscle proteins being built from amino acids. To counteract that, senior citizens are urged to eat more protein to maintain their muscle mass and slow down its deterioration.

The scientists wanted to find out what those people should eat as that happens. They found that while soy and wheat proteins did help people maintain muscle mass, but much larger quantities of them had to be consumed than animal proteins to achieve those effects. In other words, animal proteins are just more potent than their plant-based counterparts.

But don’t discount vegans just yet. The researchers said they still need to compare the effects of animal proteins to vegan protein sources such as oat, quinoa, and maize (or corn).

They also suggested a balanced diet of both animal and plant-based proteins as the most optimal eating regimen.