Last Updated on November 16, 2012 by Jimson Lee
When I was living in the USA, I used to order from Protein Factory because I liked to customize my high quality protein to maximize the absorption rates, as all protein are not created equal.
My formula was a mixture of CFM Whey isolate, Egg, and Casein protein. The exact ratio formula is a heavily guarded secret next to Coke Classic and Colonel Sander’s KFC chicken.
I can’t keep a secret for long. It was a 33%-33%-33% combination. Remember, every body is different.
I am often asked what the differences were to real food, or how they compared to natural food sources such as fish, beef, milk, chicken and eggs.
Before I answer that, let me introduce to you one of the leading researchers in exercise and sports nutrition scientists Jose Antonio, Ph. D. From his web site, he has a great article explaining the different types, features and benefits, and how to consume them.
If you find his knowledge and insight helpful, you may be interested in reading his new co-authored book with Suzy Favor Hamilton Fast Track : Training & Nutrition Secrets from America’s Top Female Runner
Jose Antonio, Ph. D. is also the author Sustaining the Caffeine Advantage: The Science of Sustained Energy, Exercise, and Fat Burning
This article is from his web site.
A Treatise on Protein Dammit…
Whey, casein, and soy ‘Oh My’
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive usually goes something like this. “Dr. Antonio, what’s your opinion of different protein sources? Are they all the same? Can I just eat rice and beans and get the same benefits as something like drinking milk?” Usually, underneath a subtle chuckle, I say that if all proteins were the same, then we’d all be lean and have abs that would make Jennifer Garner envious. Then I put on my serious face and say something scientifically profound like “well of course not.”
Okay, let me elaborate. I’ll give you a snapshot of several popular protein sources. From this, you can pick and choose which are best for you.For starters though, I will say with firm conviction as I chug down my whey-casein meal replacement shake, that vegetable sources of protein are generally inferior to animal sources. Plant proteins are low in certain amino acids and are poorly digested. However, soy protein is one exception. With that protein preamble, let’s get to the meat of the issue:
The world according to Dr. Antonio puts fish as the single best protein source!But it’s not just the fact that fish is a complete protein and has some amazing benefits, but the healthy fat in fish (eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid) is something that you won’t find in our land-dwelling brethren.
Features and Benefits: Eating fish improves your insulin sensitivity. Some investigators believe it’s related to the amino acid arginine. One investigation showed that a diet containing 1% arginine (similar to that found in cod protein [1.3%]) produces a lower blood insulin response 30 to 45 minutes after an intravenous glucose tolerance test. Others have theorized that the high lysine content of fish may also confer benefits. Ultimately, the increased insulin sensitivity means that you need less insulin to transport glucose and amino acids into your cells. Less insulin may mean less fat deposition.
How to use it: Fish should be the primary food protein that you consume! No doubt about it. It has a great amino acid profile and confers health benefits (related to both the protein itself and the omega-3 fats) that you just can’t find in other proteins. So if I were you, I’d make sure you become a frequent patron of your local sushi bar!
If you haven’t heard of whey protein, then I think you deserve to be punished by watching Ben and J-Lo’s classic flick Gigli at least 10 times over or until you fall into a deep coma, whichever comes first.Whey protein is the second most abundant protein derived from milk (casein is the most abundant milk protein).It’s found mainly in meal-replacement powders, protein powders, and ready-to-drinks.
Features and Benefits: Whey contains all of the essential amino acids and is particularly high in the branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) and glutamine (an immune-boosting amino acid). Whey is considered a â€˜fast’ acting protein.  If you consume a 30-gram serving of whey on an empty stomach, levels of blood amino acids peak about 1 hour afterwards and return to pre-meal levels by 3-4 hours. This absorption profile makes whey a very anabolic protein.In fact, a whey protein meal produces a 68% increase in protein synthesis; however, it doesn’t blunt protein breakdown (Casein protein does! More on that later.)
How to use it: According to exercise physiologist John Berardi, Ph.D., founder of Science Link, “it’s best to consume a fast-acting protein like whey immediately after an intense workout.” In fact, combining whey protein with a high-glycemic carbohydrate (e.g., maltodextrin) may be the ideal post-workout meal.
Casein is the main protein in milk. Besides drinking milk, you can obtain casein in various meal-replacement powders, protein powders, and ready-to-drinks. Casein â€˜clots’ in your stomach making its absorption a bit slower than whey, hence, it’s designated a â€˜slow-acting’ protein.
Features and Benefits: Casein has a strong anti-catabolic effect.You might describe casein as the “opposite” of whey.They’re both great proteins but they act in quite the opposite manner. Here’s why. Casein has a lower anabolic effect (31% versus 68%) when compared to whey. However, casein has a very profound anti-catabolic effect; meaning that this protein inhibits protein breakdown. This has profound implications for the proper use of casein.
How to use it: Because casein is digested slowly, it produces a slow but steady rise in amino acids.Blood levels peak about 1-2 hours after consuming casein and remains elevated for up to 7 hours. According to noted sports nutritionist Jeffrey Stout, Ph.D., author of Supplements for Strength-Power Athletes, “casein is a great protein to take before going to bed. Because it’s absorbed slowly, you’ll get a nice stream of amino acids into your body. This will of course help you recover.”
Soy is the best non-animal source of protein and is often accused of being inferior from animal-source protein because it can be limiting in the amino acid methionine. However, methionine supplementation in an adult’s diet is usually not necessary because at levels normally consumed, soy protein provides sufficient methionine. Though soy is not a normal staple in American’s diets, you can find various soy products (e.g., soy milk, soy-based protein powders) at your grocer’s shelves.
Features and Benefits: It’s been shown that soy protein is comparable in digestibility to other high-quality protein sources such as meat, milk, fish, and egg. According to Darryn Willoughby, Ph.D. an associate professor of exercise physiology at Texas Christian University, he states that “soy protein’s powerful anti-oxidant capabilities provide significant health and anti-cancer benefits.This is probably due to the presence of isoflavones, saponins, phytic acid, and protease inhibitors.” In fact, a recent study found that a soy-based meal replacement formula was “effective at lowering body weight, fat mass, and reducing LDL cholesterol.
How to use it: Soy is best used as a part of a meal-replacement powder.Alternatively, soy products (e.g., soy milk, tofu, miso soup) are wonderful foods as well.
Milk isn’t just for kids. There is an assortment of bioactive peptides that have been identified in milk. These could function to improve your overall health as well as provide the amino acids needed for active individuals.
Features and Benefits: Milk contains all of the essential amino acids.Undenatured cow’s milk contains 74% casein protein, 18% whey protein, 3% glycomacropeptide, 3% proteose peptone, and 2% miscellaneous proteins, and you thought it was only good for dipping chocolate chip cookies! According to the Journal of Dairy Science, “bioactive peptides [in milk] may function as health care products, providing therapeutic value for either treatment of infection or prevention of disease.” Keep in mind that if you’re trying to get lean, stay away from whole milk and stick to skim.
How to use it: Milk and apple pie, is there a better combination? Actually, skim milk is an excellent food source that’s perfect as an evening protein supplement. Because the majority of the protein in milk is casein (a â€˜slow’ protein), you’ll get a slow and sustained elevation of amino acids throughout the night while you sleep. This will insure that your body has the amino acids it needs to facilitate muscle recovery.
There’s nothing better than throwing a big fat steak on the grill and smelling the mouth-watering aroma as it cooks. However, the fat content between different kinds of beef can be quite variable.
- 70% lean, 30% fat (ground beef)
- 80% lean, 20% fat (ground chuck)
- 85% lean, 15% fat (ground round)
- 90% lean, 10% fat (ground sirloin)
An easy way to remember which beef source has the least fat content is to remember that those at the beginning of the alphabet (ground Beef) have the most fat and those near the end of the alphabet (ground Sirloin) have the least.
Features and Benefits: Beef contains all of the essential amino acids.Moreover, beef is an excellent protein source and is loaded with zinc and iron as well. Remember the acronym ZIP (for zinc, iron, protein).Also, beef isn’t as bad as its reputation. For example, a study published in Nutrition found that in overweight women who exercised and consumed a restricted calorie diet with lean beef or chicken as the main protein source, both groups demonstrated similar weight loss as well decreases in body fat percentage, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol. The key is that you need to consume lean beef!
How to use it: Beef should be consumed as part of your regular diet (perhaps once or twice per week).Because of the fat content (even â€˜lean’ beef has a bit of fat), don’t consume it after exercise.
Chicken is a great protein source and is perhaps the single most consumed dietary protein.Like beef, the fat content of chicken can vary dramatically especially if you eat the skin.For instance, a 100g serving of light meat chicken with skin contains 222 calories and 10.85 grams of fat compared to 173 calories and 4.51 grams of fat if you remove the skin.That’s 141% more fat (with skin)!
Features and Benefits: Chicken contains all of the essential amino acids.Because of its complete amino acid profile and the universally loved taste of chicken, it’s a favorite amongst fitness enthusiasts. I’d recommend however that you eliminate the skin from chicken (unless you’re trying to gain weight!). Similar to lean beef, chicken consumption as part of a well-rounded diet can help decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
How to use it: Chicken is a favorite amongst athletes. It’s best you consume chicken as part of your regular meals.
Which came first the chicken or the egg? The egg of course! Remember in your biology class that egg-producing animals (i.e., dinosaurs) existed long before chickens cock-a-doodled on this earth. And it wasn’t too long ago when eggs (and perhaps milk) was the favorite protein source of athletes? For a while there, eggs got a bad (an underserved) rap for having too much fat. Well, eggs are a great source of protein and the yolk is chockfull of vitamins and minerals. Some consider the amino acid profile of eggs to be the best of all food sources. Think about it, you’re basically eating an entire animal; I know that’s not a pretty analogy, but you get the point!
Features and Benefits: Eggs are a rich source of thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folic acids, vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin D, vitamin E, and phosphorus. Seems like a complete food, right? And don’t be so quick to throw out the yolks. In one large of study of 27,000 individuals, they found “the daily nutrient intake of egg consumers was significantly greater than that of non-consumers.” For instance, vitamins B12, C, E, and A were consumed in greater quantities in the egg consumers. And get this; those who reported eating four or more eggs daily had lower blood cholesterol levels than those who ate one egg or less daily. Not only is egg protein great but it’s very affordable. According to Chris Mohr, R.D., a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh “Where else can you get 80+ grams of protein, like what is found in a dozen eggs, for under a dollar?
How to use it: Egg white omelets (3-5 egg whites with 1 whole egg) are an excellent food. However, the evidence for whole eggs being harmful is just not supported by the evidence. But if you’re trying to cut back on calories, egg whites will suffice as a protein source.
About the Author
Jose Antonio, Ph.D. earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He is the co-author of Supplements for Endurance Athletes and Supplements for Strength-Power Athletes (publisher: Human Kinetics; www.supplementbooks.com).
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