PROTEIN 1.0.1. A GUIDE TO (RE)DISCOVER PROTEINS

<h1><span></span> PROTEIN 1.0.1. <span> A GUIDE TO (RE)DISCOVER PROTEINS</span></h1> <h1><span></span> PROTEIN 1.0.1. <span> A GUIDE TO (RE)DISCOVER PROTEINS</span></h1>

Have you ever asked yourself why people make such a fuss about protein? Or are you working out regularly and wondering whether a little bit of protein powder might help you achieve your fitness goal? Here are some of the things you really want to know about protein.

Read time Approx. 7 min read time

Overview

  1. What are proteins?
  2. How much protein do you need per day?
  3. What does that represent « food-wise »?
  4. What are the advantages/ benefits of protein powders then?
  5. What’s the difference between whey concentrate, whey isolate and casein?
  6. Knock down the misconceptions about protein
  1. What are proteins?

The word “Protein” comes from the Greek “Proteios” which means “holding first place”. That gives us a pretty good understanding of the importance of proteins. Indeed, they are present in every single cell of the body, from head to toe – comprising hair and nails, and are therefore essential for life.

Proteins are the building blocks of the skin, bones, blood and (surprise, surprise..) the muscles! However, the body is not able to readily store this nutrient (unlike fat and carbs). Therefore it needs to be supplied in relatively large amounts (by opposition of the tiny quantities of vitamins and minerals the body needs). So, that’s the perfect transition to the next question…

  1. How much protein do you need per day?

To determine precisely how much protein you need per day, several criteria have to be taken into account, such as your gender, your height, your weight, your age, your activity level (are you sedentary or very active?) and also your (sports) goal (maintain weight/ gain muscle/ lose weight …).

Nevertheless, the European Food Safety Authority (the authority entity when it comes to nutritional topics in Europe) has set some reference protein intakes for the population. According to them (and their American colleagues agree), a sedentary and average person should consume 0,83g/kg/day ¹ of quality protein. That means, in the case of Mr. De Jong (yep, that’s the most common last name in the Netherlands) who weighs approximately 80kg and mostly exercises by walking, would need a minimum of 64g of protein per day.

Let’s have a look at the total opposite situation: someone very active, who lifts heavy weights and wants to develop muscle mass. We now introduce you to Mr. De Jong’s twin brother, a bodybuilder. An AFSSA’s report (French authority for nutrition) has mentioned that the commonly observed daily protein intake for bodybuilders/ weight lifters goes from 1,8 up to 2,5 g/kg ². That would represent approximately 171g of protein per day, if he weighs around 90kg.

Well, what if you are not in any of the situations above mentioned? Do you go to the gym regularly or have a quite physical work? Do you want to maintain your weight and muscle mass? In this case, an intake of 1,2 to 1,6g/kg/day does the job. So Miss De Jong, who weighs 60kg and goes to the gym several times a week, because it makes her feel well, should target a minimum of 72g of protein per day.

To have a precise estimate of your daily protein needs, don’t hesitate to refer to a nutritionist, dietitian or qualified personal trainer in your gym!

protein's needs per profile

  1. What does that represent?

72g of protein… is that a lot or not? How many kilograms of chicken breast does 72g of protein represent? Or eggs? Or protein shakes? Wait, take a minute to breathe!  A balanced and varied diet does bring a good amount of protein! Let’s go through a daily diet and do the calculation at the end of the day! In this case, we’ll focus on Miss De Jong’s case, who eats a bit of everything and doesn’t have any allergies.

1-day food journal

And there you go for 91,5g of protein! That represents 1,5g of protein/kg! It was easy, wasn’t it? So what are the advantages or benefits to use protein powders? (And once again, perfect transition to the next question! Yay!)

BTW, if you want to check Miss De Jong’s varied and balanced daily menu (with the calories and macronutrients counts), click here:

1-day food journal to maintain muscle mass

  1. What are the advantages/ benefits of protein powders ?

All days might not be as well “foodganized” as this one. Sometimes, life happens and your lunch or diner might be lighter or less rich in protein… Having a ready to use source of quality protein is ideal to make sure to not run short of this precious nutrient.

Moreover, if your goal is to increase your muscle mass and consequently need to gradually increase your daily protein intake while keeping your overall diet balanced and varied, protein powders might come in handy.

So, to sum it up, good quality protein powders (we insist on good quality) are a convenient and versatile way to increase the daily protein intake in the context of a balanced and varied diet.

You should see protein powders as an ingredient in your kitchen. Yes, tossing powder in a shaker and adding water or milk is the easiest way. But there are a ton of alternative ways to use protein powder in your daily life: it can go from sprinkling a bit of powder on your yogurt to making delicious pancakes, soups, brownies... We’ve prepared some recipes for you. Check them here!

  1. What’s the difference between whey concentrate, whey isolate and casein?

If you have a look at the protein powder section on our website, you will find several types of proteins: whey concentrate, whey isolate and casein. How do they differ? Which one suits your diet/ lifestyle better? If those are some of the questions that you ask yourself, keep reading, we give you the answers here!

The first thing you need to know is that casein, whey concentrate and isolate all come from cow’s milk. Now we are about to dive into some juicy “milky” scientific details! If this is not your cup of tea "glass of milk", take a short cut: ignore the 3 paragraphs below and jump directly after the picture!

Milk comprises 87% water, 3,6% milk fat, 4,2% milk sugar (lactose) and 3,2% of our dearest proteins. These proteins are divided into two groups: casein proteins (80%) and whey proteins (20%).

Milk is an emulsion of little globules of milk fat into a watery environment. Casein molecules hate water. Therefore, they form bigger molecules called micelles that float around in the milk and give it its white color. Micelles are very independent and don’t stick to each other. On the other hand, whey proteins are medium-sized molecules that are huge fans of water. All these molecules, evenly distributed in the milk, give it its smooth texture and high nutritional value.

During the cheese making process, the addition of an enzyme, an acid and/or heat brings chaos (a positive one) into the milk structure. The casein micelles join forces to resist this attack, literally stick together and form big white blocks aka “curds” or gel, that float into a watery liquid. This process is called coagulation. The watery liquid, called “whey”, contains whey proteins but also fat and sugars. While the curd continues its journey to make delicious cheeses, the liquid whey is directed to another manufacture to produce whey protein concentrate and isolate, rich in highly bioavailable proteins. The liquid whey is passed through filters, that act as sieves, retaining some molecules and letting other go.

Milk coagulation

(→ That's the paragraph you're looking for if you took the short cut!) Whey concentrate is the most used form of whey protein in the sports industry. It is obtained by ultrafiltration of the liquid whey. The result is a protein-rich liquid, streamed out of a part of the milk sugars and fat. This liquid is then dried to obtain a white-ish powder with 80% protein content.

Whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey protein available on the market and is hence a little bit more expensive. Indeed, in this case, the liquid whey undergoes several filtration steps (micro and ultrafiltration), which result in a powder with a higher protein content (90% min.) and lower sugar and fat contents.

What about casein then? If you go back up a couple of lines, we said that casein proteins form big molecules (micelles) that coagulate and form a gel in an acidic environment. That’s exactly what happens in the body during the digestion. When the micelles of casein are in contact with the acid environment of the stomach, they coagulate and form big balls, from which amino acids will slowly stream out throughout the digestive process and ensure a continued and constant protein supply.

So, we still haven’t answered the million euros question. Which protein source should you go for: whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate or casein?

First of all, since all three protein types come from the same source, they do contain complete proteins and are naturally rich in BCAA.

Whey protein is a source of highly bioavailable proteins, which means that they are available in the blood stream shortly after ingestion. It’s the go-to product after a workout. Now, choosing between Whey Protein Concentrate and Isolate will depend on your nutritional targets. If you want to keep your fat and sugar intakes low, while boosting your protein consumption, then Whey Protein Isolate is made for you.  Whey Protein Concentrate is a main stream source of protein that will be ideal for someone who wants to increase his/her daily protein intake, whatever his/her sport or target.

Casein proteins are slowly digested and ensure a constant protein supply for several hours. Therefore, they will be of great use for sports people who are aiming to build their muscle mass. An interesting way to use casein would be in association with Whey proteins. That’s the ideal cocktail of proteins for a fast supply directly after a workout and a slow supply during the night or a fasting period.

Whey concentrate, isolate or casein

  1. Knock down the misconceptions about protein

Proteins are only for bodybuilders.

WRONG. Proteins are for all human beings! Women, men, young, or a little bit less young… everyone!  They are present in every cells of the body and are the building blocks of the skin, bones, and muscles. The daily needs of proteins vary depending on the sex, the age, the height and weight, the activity level and sports target(s). Therefore, someone aiming to build muscle mass would need more protein than someone sedentary.

The more protein I eat the bigger my muscles will be.

WRONG. Proteins are not a magic wand that will blow up your muscles! Muscle growth is the result of the addition of appropriate training and a balanced and varied diet, rich in protein (the daily needs being based on your activity level, gender, age…). So, a diet ultra rich in proteins (and therefore unbalanced) associated to little or not appropriate exercise won’t lead to muscle growth.

1 shake is enough to cover my daily needs in protein.

WRONG. 1 shake of whey protein contains approximately 24g of protein. In section 2, we saw that it’s recommended that a sedentary person consumes 0,83g/kg per day, which in the case of Mr De Jong represented 64g. So a shake represents a bit more than a third of his daily needs. Mr De Jong’s needs were on the low end of the daily intakes we calculated above. Therefore, a shake cannot cover someone’s needs.

That's it for today! If you have more questions about proteins, feel free to drop us an email!

List of sources:

  1. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/interactive-pages/drvs
  2. https://www.anses.fr/en/system/files/NUT-Ra-Proteines.pdf

 

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