What is Protein?
Protein is made up of a long chain of amino acids linked together, and is required by the body for the growth, repair & maintenance of all cells including muscles, organs & tissues such as hair, nails, skin & bones. Protein is vital for practically every process that occurs within the body including metabolism, digestion, fighting off infection, as well as the transportation of oxygen & nutrients in the blood. Athletes & bodybuilders will have a greater requirement for protein than the average person & that's where supplementation comes in.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks, joined together by peptide bonds which make up protein. There are around 20 standard amino acids in the body. These include:
* Essential Amino Acids (EAA's): There are 9 essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Essential Amino Acids must be obtained through your diet as they cannot be manufactured in the body. EAA's are also known as "complete" proteins as they contain all of the 9 essential amino acids. EAA's can be obtained from foods such as meat, fish, chicken, dairy and soy. These foods all have a high bioavailability score.
* Non-Essential Amino Acid - There are 11 non-essential amino acids: alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine, cystine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine & tyrosine. These aminos can be manufactured in the body and therefore do not have to be obtained from the diet. Vegetables and grains can contain large amounts of several EAA's, but only small quantities of others, giving them a low bioavailability score. Often combining 2 or more incomplete vegetable protein sources together such as legumes with nuts and seeds, can significantly boost the overall biovailability, making the food a "complete protein" by providing a full spectrum of amino acids. This is often the case for people living a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.
* Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's): BCAA's are of significant importance to athletes as they are metabolised in the muscle instead of the liver. These aminos can be used to build new proteins or burned for fuel to use as an energy source.
Where does Whey Protein come from?
Whey protein that you find in your supplement buckets is produced during the process of when cow's milk is converted to cheese. Ie. Whey protein is a by-product of the cheese making process. When milk is treated to cause a shift in the pH, you get a separation of: Casein - the curded substance that sinks to the bottom, and the uncurded whey which sits on top of the casein. The uncurded substance is collected and processed. This processing involves the removal of fat and lactose to produce a higher concentration whey protein, where it is then pasteurised, evaporated at low heat, and dried to produce whey protein concentrate powder.
Protein itself is found in many of the foods we eat, mainly chicken, fish, beef, eggs and dairy, as well as non-animal sources such as soy, beans, nuts and seeds.
However, none of these sources of protein come with the quality and ease of use like whey protein does. Whey protein also comes without the added extras that your body can do without, such as fat.
Biological Value (BV)
The Biological Value (BV) is a scale of measurement used to determine what percentage of a given nutrient source is utilised by the body. Here is a list below of common protein products and their biological value:
159 - Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
104 - Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)
100 - Whole Eggs
79 - Chicken / Turkey
77 - Casein
74 - Soy
70 - Fish
69 - Lean Beef
60 - Cows Milk
The Bio-Availability and Manufacturing Methods of Protein
Remember, not all whey protein powders are created equal. Manufacturers use a number of different processing methods to produce whey protein and this is reflected in the price you pay for the final product. Depending on the method of processing used, this also greatly affects the bio-availability of the protein, that is, a measure of the efficiency of delivery of the protein, or in other words, how much of what is ingested is actually used for it's intended purpose of building and repairing muscle tissue.
There is a number of processing techniques used to produce WPI's or various sub-fractions and these include; Cross Flow Micro Filtration (CFM), Micro Filtration (MF), Ultra Filtration (UF), Dynamic Membrane Filtration (DFM), Reverse Osmosis (RO), Electro Ultra Filtration (EU), Ion Exchange Chromatography (IEC), Nano Filtration (NF), and Radial Flow Chromatography (RFC). The most familiar processing methods are:
* Cross Flow Micro Filtration - This process uses high tech ceramic filters and is a natural non-chemical process. Although a generic term for several similar ways for processing whey protein including Micro Filtration & Ultra Filtration (being the size of the membranes used), the processing method of cross flow micro filtration uses a low temperature micro filtration technique. This produces a very high protein content which is low in fat and lactose with almost no undenatured protein, while retaining important subfractions.
* Ion-Exchange - This process involves the use of chemicals and involves separating proteins based on their electrical charge by taking a protein concentrate and running it through an ion exchange column/reaction vessel. Ion exchange processing costs significantly less than cross flow micro filtration, and has the apparent highest levels of protein of any isolate, however due to the harsh condition of this method of processing, some amino acids are denatured and some of the most valuable and health promoting components are destroyed. Some of the components that can be destroyed during this process include:
Immunoglobulins - Immune boosting antibodies
Glycomacropeptides (GMP's) - Antiviral properties, good for the digestive system, highly biologically active proteins, enhanced immune function, and enhanced calcium absorption.
Alpha lactalbumin - Contains significant amounts of essential and non-essential amino acids
Lactoferrin - Anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti- cancer and immune enhancing properties.
* Hydrolysed / Pre- Digested - (also known as WPH - Whey Protein Hydrolysate) Hydrolysed or pre-digested protein involves the use of enzymes to break the amino acid peptide bonds into smaller chains. This allows for faster absorption in the stomach. Hydrolysed protein is the most digestible whey protein for human consumption, however the main drawbacks are the significantly high cost for this method of processing as well as the bitter taste of the protein caused by the hydrolysis process.
Types of Protein
The main types of proteins include:
(1) Milk Protein - The 2 main types of protein found in milk are:
(a) Whey Protein - Whey Protein is the most common form of protein supplement and makes up approximately 20% of the protein found in milk.
The 2 mains types of whey protein are WPI or Whey Protein Isolate, and WPC or Whey Protein Concentrate, and both contain an abundance of EAA's (Essential Amino Acid's) and BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids).
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) usually contains approximately 90% protein, is the more expensive of the two and absorbs at a faster rate, making it great to take straight after your workout.
Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) is generally the more basic form of whey protein, contains up to 80% protein, and contains a little more lactose, fat and carbs than WPI, as it has undergone less processing. WPC is generally a cheaper protein than WPI.
(b) Casein - There are 3 types of Casein protein; Micellar Casein, Calcium Caseinate and Milk Protein Isolate. Casein is the slowest digesting protein available, taking anywhere from 3-7 hours to digest. Casein is best taken before sleep, so as to provide a constant release of aminos into the blood stream, aiding in the repair and building of muscle tissue throughout the night. Remember, it's not in the gym where your body is growing muscle, it's when you sleep! So having a constant supply of protein for the body during this important time frame is vital to maximise your muscle building/repairing potential.
(2) Soy Protein - Soy protein is the most complete protein that is derived from a plant source, providing the full spectrum of amino acids. Soy Protein is available as Soy Protein Isolate (SPI), and Soy Protein Concentrate (SPC), as well as Textured Soy Protein (TSP). Although soy protein does not absorb as well as the other types of protein, it has been shown to provide increased health benefits, such as maintaining a healthy cholesterol profile due to the isoflavones it contains. Soy protein is also suitable for vegans / vegetarians.
(3) Egg Protein - (Egg Albumin) Egg protein takes approximately 2-3 hours to absorb in the body, providing more of a sustained release of amino acids into the blood stream. Egg albumin is great taken during the day in between meals, or combined with Whey to keep the body in an anabolic (muscle building) state for hours until the next meal.
(4) Rice Protein - Rice protein is carefully produced by extracting the protein from brown rice. It, too, provides the full amino acid profile. The main benefit of rice protein is that not only is it a complete protein, but it is hypoallergenic and suitable for vegans.
What is L- Glutamine?
L-Glutamine is an amino acid found mainly in protein powder supplements, meats, poultry, and dairy. Glutamine is highly in demand throughout the body, and plays a very important role in assisting in the prevention of muscle catabolism or breakdown. Glutamine can also be used by the body as a fuel, to make other important amino acids and compounds, as well as used for new body protein. Research has shown that heavy training can significantly reduce the levels of glutamine in the body, so finding a good protein supplement with added glutamine can be very beneficial.
What Is The Best Protein Powder Supplement?
1) Max's WPI (90.1%)
Max's is one of Australia's leading supplement companies, known for their superior nutrition products. Max's Bioengineered WPI is high in Glycomacropeptides, high in Beta Whey WPI, rich in BCAA's, has added vitamins and minerals, contains no lactose or sugar, is ultra low in fat, and tastes great!
2) Vital Strength WPI (90%)
Vital Strength WPI is 100% pure WPI. This protein comes with added essential vitamins, is high in glycomacropeptides (GMP) and whey microfractions, is instantised, and has very low carbs and fat.
3) Body Science (BSc) WPI (86.1%)
Body Science WPI is a great tasting high quality protein with relatively no fat or carbohydrates. It contains undenatured whey microfractions, high levels of branched chain amino acids and is easily digested. BSc WPI is designed to assist with lean muscle growth, the support of muscle repair and recovery as well as boosting the immune system.
Best Protein Powder Supplement Blend:
1) Optimum Nutrition Nitrocore 24 - When it comes to blends, Optimum Nitrocore 24 is right up there with the best. This product contains 10 different protein sources:
Fast Release: Hydrolyzed Whey Peptides, Ion-Exchange WPI, Cross-Flow Microfiltered WPI, Ultrafiltered WPC, Glutamine Peptides.
Intermediate Release: Egg Albumen, Milk Protein Isolate, Unltrafiltered Milk Protein Concentrate
Slow release: Micellar Casein and Calcium Caseinate. Redbak Complete CP6
Besides the high quality premium blended protein, ON Nitrocore 24 also contains dietary fibre to help keep you fuller for longer, a lipid blend of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and MCT's, and is enzyme fortified for easier digestion and absorption.
2) Redbak Complete CP6 is a synergistic protein matrix. This product contains a blend of six different protein types for the full range of slow to fast release proteins being: WPC, WPI, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, L- Glutamine, and Hydrolized WPI. The amino acid profile of Redbak Complete is formulated to mimic mother's milk, providing all the essential and non-essential aminos to build and strengthen human muscle. Redbak Complete is great to take both post workout as well as during the day and night. It also contains added L-Glutamine, Taurine, digestive enzymes, and is gluten free.
3) Inner Armour Super Quad - Superquad is a high quality protein supplement produced by the well known Canadian company Inner Armour. Inner Armour Superquad is a multi-stage extended release matrix of Ultra-filtered WPC, Micro- filtered WPI, Micellar Casein, and Milk Protein Isolate, keeping the body in positive nitrogen balance for upto 4 hours. Inner Armour Superquad also contains added BCAA's, Creatine, and is 100% Instantized for easy mixability.
4) Gaspari Myofusion - Gaspari Myofusion provides a powerful proteolytic enzyme complex for extreme bioavailability and maximum amino acid levels in the blood stream. This high quality protein provides the optimal ratio of cross flow cold process / microfiltered whey protein concentrate and isolate, egg albumin and milk protein isolate. Known to be one of the best tasting proteins around, it contains no added sugar, and is also aspartame free.
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