We are here for the people and the people want to know more about protein. We covered protein 101 in episode 29, Protein for the Gains (where we also discuss how MUCH protein one should be eating), but today we’re answering your specific questions on whether there are good and bad proteins, plant vs whey, and proteins role in body composition. So let’s get to it: 

From Headley Actually on IG: Are there “good” proteins and “bad” proteins?

  1. TLDR: Some are better, but none are bad. 
  2. Caveat time! Quality of protein can be pretty important. The aim being that you want to try to focus on the completeness of the protein.
  3. What does that mean, tho?
    • Complete proteins are generally animal proteins and soy
    • Complete proteins contain all of the goodness that you’re looking for in a protein source. (We could get super nerdy here, but I’ll leave that up to you)
  4. You can dress protein up any way you want to to make sure you’re getting your intake in on a given day
    • All you got in the cupboard is mac and cheese? Throw some tuna into it. Got a salad? Throw some tuna or canned chicken on it. Got some crackers? Make tuna or chicken salad with a tiny bit of mayo and you’ve got a snack or a quick lunch.
    • Don’t overthink it. It can be as simple as you want it to be… and remember, just because your food isn’t the most appetizing looking thing ever, doesn’t mean it won’t taste good. 🙂
  5. One other thing to mentioned that we’ve talked about before: the bro protein window doesn’t exist for most of us (most of those/and us who are listening to this are not athletes, ie: training 2+ times a day) 
    • As long as you’re eating balanced meals with your protein at the center, building your plate around that protein, you will be just fine. After a workout, just eat your next normal meal 
    • Typically, most adults can aim to consume around 30g of protein per main meal and supplement with higher protein snacks and meet their protein target.

Let’s break it down: plant vs whey protein

  1. Some people have issues with whey and/or dairy, so finding other options is a must. Before we dig into it though, let’s talk about how whey and plant protein are made.
    • Whey protein is just what it sounds like, protein powder that’s made from whey, which is the byproduct from making cheese. It’s made by processing the way to get rid of carbs, fats, and extra water… leaving whey concentrate, the most pure form of whey.
    • Plant protein is made from ground up plants (aka “meal”) and then is processed further into isolate… so when you hear soy isolate, pea protein isolate, etc… this is what they’re talking about.
    • They’re both going to be great sources of protein if you’re having a hard time eating enough protein during your day… remember, they are supplements, not food replacers. Don’t have six shakes during your day, eat some food too please.
  2. Whey:
    • Pros – Whey is going to have more amino acids than plant protein, they’re also going to be different aminos (because obvs you have different food sources). Whey has leucine, isoleucine, methionine, and lysine… all of these play a large role in protein synthesis and metabolism.
      • Leucine and Isoleucine are BCAAs.
      • When it comes to gainz, whey has the highest biological value of any protein source, so it absorbs super-quickly. It’s more readily digestible and almost all of the whey consumed is absorbed into your bloodstream.
    • Cons – The main type of sugar in whey protein is lactose… and you know where this is headed. If you’re dairy sensitive, whey will likely be a no-go for you… there are some types of whey protein that are lactose-free, but if you still have stomach trouble with lactose-free whey, you could have a problem with milk proteins in general.
      • Some people can also be allergic to whey as it comes from cow milk, they’re rare, but it’s a thing to be aware of.
      • Some people also have issues with constipation while using whey protein, this isn’t normal and could be another sign of lactose intolerance from slowed gut movement.
  3. Plants
    • Pros – plant protein will have different aminos based on the protein source.. but for example today, we are going to talk about soy protein. It has Argenine, phenylamine, and tryptophan… 
      • Phenylamine and tryptophan are both essential amino acids. (if you need a refresher on amino acids, check out episode 29.)
      • Soy promotes muscle synthesis at a high rate, and as we just mentioned, provides a high concentration of BCAAs. Soy can help build muscle mass, but it may not be the most effective protein choice, it’s middle of the road when it comes to the gainz department vs whey. It’s best when used as a blend with other proteins like pea, rice, or hemp.
    • Cons – the biggest drawback about soy is that is has phytates, they’re antinutrients that reduce the availability of zinc and iron… BUT they don’t affect your overall health as long as you’re consuming them with a well-rounded diet. TL;DR – don’t rely solely on soy for your protein needs please.
      • There’s another concern that soy can mess with your thyroid. Studies have shown soy to have a very mild effect on thyroid function… it’s because isoflavones in soy can disrupt production of thyroid hormones. SO if you have a thyroid condition, something to consider.
      • Other buyers stay away from soy because of phytoestrogen content. They’re chemical compounds that have estrogen-like properties… so they stick to estrogren receptors in your body and can disrupt natural hormone levels IF you consume an unbalanced diet. Again, please don’t rely solely on soy as your protein source.

From hemistrongcoaching on TT: I’m interested in what role protein intake plays in changing body composition

  • We’ll try not to get overly nerdy here, but, SCIENCE!
    • There are piles upon piles of studies on the effect protein intake has on body composition, but, here are some of the basics:
      • Firstly, consuming anywhere from .8-2.2 g of protein per kg of body weight has been proven to improve overall long term health in even sedentary individuals. 
      • the low end of that range (.8 g/kg of body weight) is the bare minimum a human should consume according to the USDA’s recommended daily allowance
      • To figure out how to calculate this, you divide your weight by 2.2 and then multiply it by .8 up to 2.2. According to NASM, consuming up to that 2.2 g of protein  per kg of body weight is acceptable for even sedentary individuals, as stated just a bit ago.  For another example, I go up to 1.8, so I need around 130g of protein a day.
  1. BTW, Exceeding the proposed RDA(the low end, at .8g/kg bodyweight) poses few, if any, negative consequences.(NASM)
    • However, as always, your mileage will vary, and having a convo with a nutrition coach to pinpoint your specific goals will help greatly.
    • At the end of the day, protein is essential to changing body composition when you’re wanting to increase muscle mass and decrease fat mass
  2. TLDR: Protein is an important component of a balanced diet, and appears to be integral to enhance training adaptations in folks who exercise.  We’re about to get nerdy if you want the long of it:
    • High-protein diets may assist with fat mass reduction through a variety of mechanisms including enhanced resting and sleeping energy expenditure [17], elevated activity related energy expenditure, increases in non-exercise activity thermogenesis [18,19] and a greater thermic effect of feeding relative to other macronutrients
    • it is well known that protein … elevates muscle protein synthesis post-exercise [22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29], which in theory should result in greater muscle protein increase over time.
    • It is evident that total protein intake is an important factor for any alteration in body composition. Based on the current evidence, protein intakes that far exceed the RDA may promote additional gains in lean body mass as well as a decrease in fat mass. However, in order to best achieve a gain in lean body mass or loss of fat mass, this is best achieved when complimented with a rigorous resistance training program.

Protein is great. Protein is good. Eat it every day like a good little meathead should.






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