How Do Protein Machines Works?
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients in your body. Your muscles, hair, eyes, organs, and many hormones and enzymes are primarily made up of protein. It also helps in repairing and maintaining your body tissues.
However, not all protein is not equal or gets utilised equally, and there are things you can do to help your body use it more efficiently.
Protein is a huge nutrient and a very complex nutrient, made up of smaller substances called amino acids, which basically combine and make a large molecule. There are 20 amino acids, but your body can only make 11 of them and they are called non essential amino acids. The other nine are called essential amino acids, and you can only get them through your diet and cannot make them.
Good quality protein sources or complete protein sources, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, contain all nine of the essential amino acids. These are also called whole proteins.
Other protein sources, such as nuts, beans, and seeds, contain only some essential amino acids. However, you can have a combination of these protein sources, such as rice and dal, to create a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.
Protein digestion begins when you first start chewing, so when you chew well, they release more enzymes and increase the activity of enzymes. The mechanical digestion, there are two enzymes in your saliva called amylase and lipase. They are required for the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats.
Once protein sources reach your stomach, there is a release of hydrochloric acid and enzymes called proteases that break protein down into smaller chains of amino acids, called tripeptide and dipeptide. Amino acids are just like beads in the necklace which are bonded with the peptide bonds.
From your stomach, these smaller chains of amino acids called peptides move into your small intestine. As it moves down to the small intestine, your pancreas releases enzymes and a bicarbonate buffer that reduces the acidity of digested food so that the pancreatic enzymes can act on it.
This reduction allows more enzymes to work on further breaking down peptide bonds into individual amino acids, and getting absorbed.
How is protein absorbed?
Protein absorption also happens in your small intestine. Once it has been absorbed, the amino acids are released into the bloodstream, which takes them or transports them to cells in other parts of your body so they can start repairing tissue and building muscle, and synthesise DNA.
How can I absorb more protein?
The first and foremost step to increase the protein absorption is by choosing whole protein sources that contain all nine essential amino acids, which include foods like:
- dairy products (veg source)
- Whey Protein (veg source)
If you are a vegetarian, you can have a complete protein with some of these combinations:
Then combination of foods like cereals and pulse combination, nuts and wholegrain combination, nuts with pulse combination, but this will also not help to meet the daily requirement so one may need whey protein powder.
How much time does it take for protein to get digested?
Standard whey protein will typically get digested within 2 to 2 and half hours, while hydrolysed whey protein that is whey that has been pre-digested will be digested within 1 to 1 and half hours.
Medium Digesting Protein
A medium digesting protein is a protein that typically gets digested within 3 to 3 half hours and it is made up of a number of proteins such as whole egg protein, egg white protein, pea protein and rice/soy protein.
Habits to follow
In addition to choosing the right protein sources, it is important to also adopt certain habits to help get the most out of the food that you eat, which include:
- Eating regularly throughout the day, basically having protein in every meal, and not all at once
- Thoroughly chewing your food to increase digestion and absorption.
- reducing stress, as it increases the protein breakdown
- Limiting your alcohol consumption, it interferes with not only protein absorption but the absorption of every nutrient like vitamin B12
- Managing any underlying condition that affects digestion, such as diabetes or liver disease as the enzyme activity gets hampered.
- Taking probiotics, which can improve protein absorption, and also keeps the gut healthy.
- Following a regular exercise routine, to increase the protein utilisation otherwise it will keep getting dumped into your body and will get converted to fat.
How to get enough protein without disbalancing the intake of other nutrients?
First of all, only animal sources of protein are absorbed completely, good quality protein.
Most of the time when we go on a high protein diet, we tend to increase the intake of fat for nonvegetarian people and also eating fish, chicken is not possible every day, you also tend to cut on vegetable so lack of fibre in the diet which leads to digestive problem,
For vegetarians the sources mostly are legumes, pulses, nuts and milk products. So, milk is the only source of good quality protein, but one cannot have more than 2 to 3 servings in general.
If you choose nuts then eating nuts in excess will also increase your fat intake. For legumes and pulses, they also contain fibre which increases the excretion also.
So, one can include whey protein as a source of protein to complete at least 40 to 50% of the daily requirements.
Which supplement to buy and how to look for the label?
If you use a supplement, look for one that lists whey protein as the only Protein ingredient. Choose whey protein products that are certified for sport or certified by informed choice. These products have been independently tested for purity, so no contaminants and added preservatives.
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