Protein, it’s not just about how much

The whole idea of protein gets more difficult when you think about the secondary effects of the food source. A prime example of this is noted with the current research regarding the ability of soy protein and that phytoestrogens literally stop the breast cancer gene expression. If you are a women, this can change all the possible bad things about soy.

Other thoughts are related to the effect of fish oils and their ability to provide so many side benefits that a book could be filled with those attributes. Vegan diets have a track record of shutting off triggers that are associated with autoimmune disorders.

Keep in mind that proteins, no matter what source are broken down into amino acids in the stomach and small intestines. So no matter what source of protein you pick, the first step is always the same-digestion. The absorption of amino acids is best if the protein is complete. Essential amino acids (EAA) exist only in certain foods and plant sources fall short of containing all the EAA. This is why mixing foods is typical in many cultures.

The typical fitness junkie is simply interested in pushing in more protein at all times. The smart fitness junkie is looking to take in food rich in non-BCAA’s prior to the workout and then BCAA rich foods following the workout. This aids in more stimulation to the human growth hormone and also the best option for effectively burning fats during the workout.

Meat, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs, soybeans, baked beans, lima beans, lentils, brown rice, whole wheat, corn, almonds and cashews are good sources of branched-chain amino acids. These food sources are best to consider following a workout.

There are down sides associated with the complete common high protein sources specifically, fat content wrapped around each of those typical red meat foods. The other credible side effect is related fiber in association with the vegetable ones that you can obtain.

L-Methionine appears to be the trigger that research has strong evidence that turns on several cancer genes and also commonly found in high content in yellow tailed fish, pork, beef and dairy.

Finally consider those other effects of plant source proteins protecting you if you have auto immune disorders and stopping breast cancer. Also consider the vitamins and minerals you can obtain from each source.

When you start to put this all together you end up with what researchers were trying to achieve in 1989, known as the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).

The trouble with the PDCAAS is that it is based on the amino acid needs of a school aged child, fails to determine absorption beyond the ileal digestive area and doesn’t account for decreased absorption with aging and during illness. We are going to use similar factors to help determine the scores of various food sources based on similar, yet include more applicable criteria.

The main factors scientist considered with the previous PDCAAS were; protein efficiency ratio, biological value, net protein utilization. The trouble is that no one protein source works best for everyone. Various health needs, gender, age and other factors all need to be factored in.

If you have an autoimmune issue, then you need to consider that the primary vegan diet, supplemented with L-Lysine, since the literature shows strong support that it is the best plan for you. Keep in mind that phytoestrogen hormones are triggers that may turn on or off cancer growth, but lean muscle falls off with high estrogen levels, which brings on other serious health risk.

Men with autoimmune disorders have to decide if the use of soy with the obvious phytoestrogen and higher estrogens is more beneficial than the more flesh proteins. Any individual who is aging past 50 should really consider the benefits of the omega 3 content with their seafood protein intake.

The final discussion has to be on protein supplements. The common issue here is the source of the protein. Since they are all just eventually broken down in the amino acids, then the truth is that a 200 mg of L-Arginine is the same from any food source. The chemical structure doesn’t change from plant to animal source.

If you are taking straight amino acids the source and its traces have all been removed. There is nothing in the supplement that is different from a plant to a protein, other than plants costing more. All the side ingredients have been removed.

Protein supplements can be isolated and that removes many of the bad side effects, such as high fat content, but it also removes the beneficial chemicals. Isolated proteins are very close to raw amino acids and are quick to be digested and are better to absorb than whole food sources.

To understand how your body digest which proteins the best, is determined by seeing how much protein you are passing out of the digestive track. This specific testing seems to be devoid from a majority of the studies currently published. Not always the easiest test to determine, but nitrogen retention is the key to showing the ultimate choice for protein in any specific individual. Some blood lab work will be necessary to unfold this complicated mess.

Once you have to protein that is absorbed, it is more difficult to absorb it and retain it. Some chemicals such as β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyric acid (HMB) help us do this. Insulin growth factors, intense exercise, appropriate sleep and appropriate hormone levels all help us to maintain high nitrogen gains.

Testing for nitrogen retention is best determined by a nitrogen loss as measured for content in the urine. Various dip stick urine kits are helpful for in home lab testing to make sure you are retaining proteins and not just dumping them.

In summary, deciding on a food source for the best protein is dependent on the individual who is using it. Many people have different needs and hence most supplement companies have multiple protein options and it is important to try several ones to determine, which is best for you. It is also important to choose food sources that match your specific needs. Remember, over time, your needs may change and so you need to adapt your protein sources.

About the Author

DrDavidRyanDr. David Ryan has an extensive background in both coaching and playing professional sports, and has been the team physician for several highly ranked teams. Dr. Ryan now serves as the current Co-Chairman of the Arnold Sports Festival ( and is a former Medical Director of this internationally acclaimed event.

Dr. Ryans numerous articles have been published in International Medical Journals, Muscle & Fitness Magazine as well as on the popular website. Visit Dr. Ryans home page on here: and his YouTube page here.