Protein explained – Why you need it, how to use it

protein-explained

This week’s category of the week is protein. Discover why you need it, where you can find it, and the best Bio-Synergy supplements to help you reach your daily macro-nutrient requirements. #MakeItHappen 

Examples of protein include fish, chicken, eggs, beef and some vegetable sources such as soya beans. Proteins break down into amino acids in the body and are used for a variety of functions such as repairing tissues, immune function support and the manufacture of hormones.

Roles of Protein in the Body

Check out our Whey protein comparison chart below. #MakeItHappen

whey-better-protein-chart

Everyone knows that protein is important for building and repairing muscle fibres after exercise, but proteins in the body have thousands of other essential roles, including:

• Producing antibodies for the immune system
• Manufacturing hormones and enzymes that are involved in most reactions in your body
• Aiding in the digestion and absorption of food
• Maximising the transport of oxygen to tissues
• Providing structure for muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs, bones, hair, skin and all other tissues

Protein is a word that sparks both controversy and reverence among the fitness and nutrition community.

How much protein we actually need, what type of protein we should ingest* and what protein products are the most effective are all topics that are under constant scrutiny and debate.

One fact about protein remains clear; muscles need it to grow. So, for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, exactly what type of protein is best and how much of it to take are very important topics.

Bio-Synergy generally recommends a minimum of one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day.

To lose weight, one could eat for their lean body mass weight. To gain weight and muscle size, one could eat to the bodyweight they would like to reach (within reason).

There are certain ‘givens’ where protein is concerned. One given is that we need to consume a portion of protein with each of our meals to supply ample amounts of amino acids for our bodies to use for a variety of functions.

Protein Digestion and Absorption

protein absorption

You need to eat protein-containing foods daily to obtain your daily requirements for essential amino acids.

About 90% of the protein you eat is broken down into amino acids and becomes part of the amino acid “pool” that the body draws upon when it needs to build or repair muscles or other tissues or do any of the other roles that the amino acids play (The body excretes the other 10%).

Unlike carbohydrates and fat, which the body can store as glycogen or triglycerides respectively for use later, amino acids have no form of storage in the body, so it’s important to have some protein every day.

When you eat foods containing protein, the protein molecule is broken down in the mouth and small intestine into its amino acids. Once broken into amino acids, three things can happen.

The amino acids can be:

• Converted into glucose
• Converted into triglycerides land stored as body fat
• Released into the bloodstream as the plasma protein or free amino acids to be used as energy

When you eat enough protein to cover your body’s amino acids needs, your body is considered to be in protein equilibrium;
however, if you don’t eat enough, protein (usually from the muscles) is broken down to fulfil the amino acids “pool.” If you
consume more protein than your body needs, the excess amino acids are broken down further and the nitrogen, ammonia uric
acid and creatine are secreted in urine, and part of the amino acid remaining can either be stored as body fat or muscle.

Amino Acids

Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein and are necessary to support muscle growth. Amino Acids are usually categorised
as essential and nonessential.

There are eight essential amino acids, these amino acids are those that your body cannot manufacture to create what it needs for countless functions on its own and must be obtained from foods and/or supplementation. A non-essential amino acid can be produced in the body by re-configuring other amino acids to create what it needs for countless functions.

This process (re-configuring amino acids) in layman’s terms may be something like taking a piece of clay and reforming it into something else so that the body can use it in a different way.

Table of Essential & Non-Essential Amino Acids8
• Nine Essential Amino Acids Non-Essential Amino Acids
• Histidine Alanine
• Isoleucine (BCAA) Arginine
• Leucine (BCAA) Asparagine
• Lysine Aspartic acid
• Methionine-Cystine
• Phenylalanine Glutamic acid
• Threonine Glutamine
• Tryptophan Glycine
• Valine (BCAA) Proline
• Serine
• Tyrosine

Important Note:

Histidine is an essential amino acid in childhood and in a small percentage of adults. As it is not essential to all adults, it is commonly classed as non-essential. For the purposes of this training material, neither classification is incorrect.

Protein Explained

Bio-Synergy Whey Better - BCAA

There are two general types of proteins: complete and incomplete. A complete protein offers all of the essential amino acids.
All animal proteins are complete proteins.

An incomplete protein is missing one or more of the essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins are generally incomplete.

Some of the proteins that we select should be high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are called ‘branched’ because of their molecular structure.

These amino acids are leucine, isoLeucine and valine. BCAAs are important because a third of muscle tissue is comprised of BCAAs. BCAAs are depleted from muscle tissue during strenuous exercise, being used as an energy source by the body.

Essentially, this means that we are losing muscle size during strenuous exercise. That being the case, it makes sense to use a protein that is high in BCAAs to replenish this lost tissue as quickly as possible.

One type of protein may offer specific benefits that another protein may not. Since your body uses the different attributes of proteins for a wide variety of functions, it is best to consume several types of protein each day. For this reason, Bio-Synergy uses a blend of several proteins in its formulas.

Whey Protein

Protein in an essential part of recovery post exercise. Check out the video below for an example of how protein is used after the gym.


There are two types of proteins that come from milk; these are whey and casein proteins. Whey protein is derived from milk specifically from the process of making cheese.

During this process, the milk is curdled, separating the curd from the whey. The whey is the syrupy liquid that you sometimes see on top of cottage cheese. The curd (cottage cheese) is pure casein protein.

For many years, whey was discarded as a waste product from cheese manufacturers. Eventually, it was decided that the cheese industry finds alternate means of disposal or uses for whey.

As a result, whey was tested for what it contained. It was found that whey was actually loaded with a variety of proteins that were extremely high in quality and contained better amino acid profiles (for humans) than beef.

Whey protein contains a high amount of the specific amino acids that are most needed by humans. In addition, it was found that whey was not only extremely digestible, it dissolved well in water (a convenient attribute for making whey in nutritional supplements).

To make whey practical for use as a nutritional supplement, methods were developed to separate the unwanted components out, specifically lactose, cholesterol and sodium.

One process that has proven effective but expensive, is cold ultrafiltration – microfiltration. This process works by physically passing the whey through a micro-filter, leaving some of the impurities behind.

The other method is through ion exchange (also expensive) in which the proteins are extracted by taking advantage of their specific electronic charges (kind of like using a magnet).

Whey protein contains the highest concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) of any single protein source. It is also rapidly absorbed into the body. This makes whey protein an excellent source of protein to use after a strenuous workout to replenish the BCAAs in muscle tissue quickly.

Whey protein also has properties that may help to support immune function, offer anti-oxidant protection, stimulate growth hormone production and assist in the production of glutathione (the body’s natural anti-oxidant).

However, whey protein is low in phenylalanine (an essential amino acid), glutamine and arginine (two ‘conditionally essential’ amino acids). These three amino acids are said to be the ‘limiting factors’ of whey.

Choosing the right protein product for your goals

@edfitpt fuelling his recovery after an intense #LegDay at @muscleworks_enfield – visit bio-synergy.uk if you want to #makeithappen like Ed. #fitness #gym #gymflow #gymlife #recovery #hiit #fitfam #protein #nutrition #fitnessmodel

A video posted by Bio-Synergy (@biosynergy) on

Understanding the individual health and fitness goals of each user, we have developed a range of different products to help you maximise your training.

Bio-Synergy Whey Better whether your goal is packing on lean muscle, supporting your diet, improving recovery or taking your training to the next level then Whey Better is the ideal protein. Each serving contains up to 92% protein (over 27g per 30g serving) per 100g and 6.7g BCAA’s (over 27g protein per 30g serving) and is manufactured right here in the UK from the highest quality whey protein isolate and is gluten & lactose-free. Whey Better is the perfect partner whatever your goals, so if you want the UK’s most powerful protein, as voted by Men’s Health then choose from 7 delicious flavours and join the revolution.

For those who want a kickstart in the morning, we recommend ActiVeman Oatein. Not only does Oatein contain over 20 grams of whey protein per serving, but also a blend of complex carbohydrates that helps sustain slow releasing energy all the way up until lunchtime.

For women, we have Active Woman Activate. With Vitamin D, B5, B6, calcium, zinc, and folic acid, Activate is primed to push you into the best shape of your life. These vitamins play vital roles in efficient energy metabolism, and also help safeguard bones and sensitive muscle tissues. Play smart and play safe with Activate so you’ll never have to stop.

For the young and more gym focussed, Super7® Super Max whey protein concentrate, is a protein that contains a unique blend of 7 key ingredients created by experts to power you through your workout and pack on lean pounds of muscle.

High-quality protein is an integral part of the diet and serves as the foundation upon which sound nutritional protocols are built. Super7® Super Max whey protein concentrate is rich in high-quality multi-source protein and contains 18.4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat and 12 grams of carbohydrates per 30 gram serving.

Isolate

There are many ways in which a protein source can be extracted from raw materials; some of these have been explained earlier in this article. Under some extraction processes, a certain amount of other by-products remains alongside the protein, for example carbohydrates, fats, etc. With a protein isolate minimal by-product is left, meaning isolates are a purer protein source.

Casein

As mentioned earlier, there are two types of protein contained in milk. These proteins are separated during the process of making cheese. During this process, the milk is curdled, separating the curd from the whey.

As previously discussed, whey is the syrupy liquid that you sometimes see on top of cottage cheese. The curd (cottage cheese) is a pure casein protein.

Two of the primary benefits of casein are that it is slow digesting and is also very high in the amino acid glutamine. Casein tends to form a gel in the stomach, causing it to digest slowly, which may release amino acids over a period of time into the system. This makes casein an excellent protein source to use right before bed as it may help to prevent tissue breakdown while you sleep.

Also, protein sources with added casein may help to suppress the appetite between meals, which is a key benefit for those on a restricted calorie diet.

Casein contains the highest concentration of glutamine of any single protein source. Glutamine is a ‘conditionally’ essential amino acid necessary for tissue repair, volumisation, immune support and overall muscle growth.

Casein is typically seen in protein blends in the form of calcium casein ate, or sodium caseinate. The sodium or calcium simply comes from the milk as it is naturally rich in these two minerals. Casein is also seen as micellar casein which is sometimes called ‘native milk protein’. This form of casein has been unaltered from its natural state as it is found in milk.

Milk Protein Isolate

Milk protein isolate is a combination of the proteins found in milk, namely, whey and casein. For this reason, milk protein isolate will offer some of the inherent benefits of each of these proteins. However, milk protein isolate is not as concentrated a protein source as whey protein isolate or many casein proteins by themselves.

Egg Albumin

Egg albumin (egg white protein) is one of the best whole food sources of protein. Egg protein was formerly the ‘gold standard’ of protein quality before whey isolates and soy isolate came along. Egg albumin is still a very good source of protein and helps to round out the amino acid profile in protein blends.

Soy Protein

Even though up to 38% of the bean is protein, soy has never been considered to be a quality source of protein, especially in its unrefined form such as tofu. Because it is derived from a plant source, soy has been looked upon as an inferior or incomplete protein and in its usual form, may very well be.

Whole soy meal products were used as food additives for years before finding their way into the nutritional supplement industry.

When it first entered the supplement market, soy came in the form of a crude soy protein concentrate, which lacked a quality amino acid profile and was full of carbohydrates and sodium.

Soy Protein Isolate Strengths

Soy protein isolate contains the highest concentration of what is referred to as the ‘Critical Cluster’. This combination of main amino acids contains the BCAAs plus the amino acids glutamine and arginine.

Soy-protein isolate may also assist a healthy metabolism due to its ability to support thyroid function. The thyroid is an organ that helps to regulate the metabolism. This is one reason why soy-protein isolate may be effective for people who are trying to lose body fat.

Soy-proteins may also decrease blood viscosity (may make it thinner) which may help support circulation and nutrient delivery to muscles. Diets low in saturated fats and cholesterol that include 25g of soy protein may help to reduce cholesterol levels.

How Much Protein is in a Pound of Muscle?

Your muscle is primarily water and contains up to 20% protein by weight. Here’s how a pound of muscle breaks down into components:

• Water: 70 – 75%
• Protein: 15 – 20%
• Fat, glycogen, minerals: 5 – 7%

Work out exactly how much protein you need based on your gender, age, weight and with our protein calculator

Protein Requirements for Active Individuals

The dietary recommendations for protein for physically active individuals have been hotly debated for years. The protein requirements appear to be affected by a variety of factors, including age, sex, exercise type, intensity and duration, training history, total calorie intake and timing of meals.

The protein requirements for athletes are based on the requirements for specific essential amino acids; for example, the branched chain amino acid leucine is used as fuel during exercise. One study found that during two hours of exercising at 50% VO2 max nearly 90% of the total daily requirements of leucine was burned as fuel.

Both intensity and duration will increase protein requirements. Resistance exercise and endurance exercise both affect protein utilisation. When beginning a training program, the body uses a lot of additional protein until the body adapts to the exercise program, usually happening in two or three weeks.

If you’re trying to lose weight, protein needs per pound of body weight are also increased. This happens because as you lose weight muscle protein is broken down as an energy source.

Research has shown that consuming 1.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight while dieting enabled subjects to maintain more muscle mass compared to those who followed a traditional diet with .8 grams per pound of body weight.

In order to make the most of the calories, high-quality protein sources are important when
dieting to help maintain muscle mass to keep metabolic rate high.

Despite increased protein requirements for active athletes, there is no need to believe that more is better. The maximum protein the body can utilise daily is about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.

Too much protein can lead to weight gain (as fat), interfere with other nutrients and increase the load on the kidneys to excrete additional nitrogen.

Both intensity and duration will increase protein requirements. Resistance exercise and endurance exercise both affect protein utilisation. When beginning a training program, the body uses a lot of additional protein until the body adapts to the exercise program, usually happening in two or three weeks.

If you’re trying to lose weight, protein needs per pound of body weight are also increased. This happens because as you lose weight muscle protein is broken down as an energy source.

Research has shown that consuming 1.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight while dieting enabled subjects to maintain more muscle mass compared to those who followed a traditional diet with .8 grams per pound of body weight. In order to make the most of the calories, high-quality protein sources are important when dieting to help maintain muscle mass to keep metabolic rate high.

Despite increased protein requirements for active athletes, there is no need to believe that more is better. The maximum protein the body can utilise daily is about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.

Too much protein can lead to weight gain (as fat), interfere with other nutrients and increase the load on the kidneys to excrete additional nitrogen.

Protein Requirements for Active Individuals

Try our protein calculator below, to find out what your daily consumption should be!

Find your protein number

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*Please enter an age between 18 & 80

Additional Explanations

The following explanations will help your understanding of proteins and amino acids.

Conditional Amino Acids

We have explained essential and non-essential amino acids. The non-essential amino acids can be manufactured within the body, by converting the essential amino acids consumed through diet.

However, when the body is placed under increased physical stress, such as intensive exercise, this creates a need for greater quantities of these amino acids. This is when a non-essential amino acid becomes conditionally essential, as it is advisable to supplement the diet to fulfil the bodies increased demand.

For more information on how protein can help improve athletes for cycling, check out this exclusive blog post. #MakeItHappen

nutrition-in-cycling

Stay tuned for more protein posts from Bio-Synergy coming soon this week.