Protein is an essential macronutrient, meaning that our body needs it to function properly. Protein helps maintain muscle mass, which in turn helps regulate metabolism and maintains healthy bones. It also assists with the production of hormones and enzymes necessary for various bodily processes. The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for protein intake is set at 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight, or about 56 grams daily for a 140-pound person.1
However, many people don’t get enough protein in their diets because they are either unaware or choose not to eat foods high in protein like meat, fish, or dairy products. This can lead to an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as kidney disease and osteoporosis later on in life if not corrected. For people of all ages and athletic abilities, protein is incredibly important to consume.
What is Bioavailable Protein?
Bioavailable protein is the amount of protein that can be absorbed by the body. Protein is essential to many functions in our bodies, including muscle growth and repair, hair growth, and cell reproduction.2 Our bodies are able to absorb different amounts of protein-based on age, gender, height/weight ratio, and other factors like diet or food allergies. The bioavailability of proteins may also depend on how they are prepared (cooked vs raw) which affects their amino acid profile.
It’s important for us to know what we’re getting out of our diets because not all sources provide the same benefits to your health! There are several factors that contribute to a protein’s bioavailability:
- Chemical properties: Certain proteins have weak bonds between them which makes it easier for our bodies to break them down into amino acids. We will be talking more about this later in the post when we discuss hydrolyzed protein.
- How well they mix with other foods: Proteins do not digest alone – they must be broken down by stomach acid and enzymes before being absorbed by our bodies. Protein molecules are too large to be absorbed without breaking them down first, so when proteins are consumed with other macronutrients, the stomach acid mixes with these foods to break down the protein.
- How well they mix in our body: The final step of digesting a protein is for it to be broken down into amino acids and absorbed across the digestive membrane. In order for this to happen, proteins need to be broken up very small so that they have enough surface area for them to be absorbed. Some larger molecules can even cause us to run out of stomach space before we finish absorbing all of the nutrients!
What Makes Protein Bioavailable?
Protein is a very important macronutrient for your body. It helps to build and repair muscles, it can be used as a source of energy in the absence of carbohydrates or fat, and it provides our bodies with essential amino acids that we cannot produce ourselves! But not all protein sources are created equal- some have more bioavailable forms than others.3
There are a lot of questions that come up in the fitness community about what types of protein are bioavailable, or easy to digest. Bioavailability is different for each type of protein and there is no conclusive answer as to which one is best. Bioavailability refers mainly to the digestion process, but many people believe that whole food sources have higher levels than processed ones because they contain other nutrients such as fiber or fat that aid digestion.4
Is Soy Protein Bioavailable?
Many people believe that soy protein is not bioavailable, but the truth is that it actually has a higher level of bioavailability than animal-based proteins. Soy protein can be found in many forms including fermented foods, tofu, and tempeh.
Soybeans are an excellent source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and vitamin E. They also contain phytochemicals called genistein which has been shown to reduce your risk for cancer by blocking growth factors necessary for tumor formation. Soybeans also contain protease inhibitors that prevent the activity of enzymes involved in cancer cell proliferation. Research has shown that consumption of soy foods is associated with a lower risk for several types of cancers including breast, colon, endometrial, and prostate cancer. Soy protein is very important to include in your diet because it offers many cancer-fighting benefits!
Is Pea Protein Bioavailable?
Pea protein is a popular vegan-friendly protein supplement for those who are looking to increase muscle mass. There are many myths surrounding pea protein. Some people say that it is not bioavailable, while others argue that the amino acid profile of pea protein does not match that of whey or soy. However, in a study conducted at the University of Toronto with twenty-six healthy adults ages 18-35 who had been on an exercise program for four weeks, participants were randomized to drink either two servings per day of vanilla-flavored pea protein isolate or milk chocolate flavored whey protein isolate after their workouts for 12 weeks.5
The results showed no difference between groups in terms of body composition changes and strength improvements. Therefore, pea proteins meet all nutritional needs and are just as effective as other types of proteins when it comes to building muscle mass and improving strength.6
Bioavailability is the measurement of how much of a nutrient can be absorbed and used by the body. The bioavailability of pea protein, one type of plant-based protein, has been questioned because it contains fiber which may decrease its absorption. But studies have shown that this doesn’t affect the overall bioavailability.
Is Whey Protein Bioavailable?
Whey protein is a popular supplement, but does it really work? Studies have shown that whey protein can provide enough amino acids to help build muscle. However, there are some factors that may affect the bioavailability of whey protein, such as if you’re using plant-based proteins or taking medications.
The degree to which something becomes available for use in one’s body after being consumed. Whey protein supplements are available in the form of powders, capsules, bars, or liquids. The question of whey’s bioavailability has been debated for many years with mixed evidence found on whey’s ability to increase muscle mass and improve performance.7
What is the Most Bioavailable Protein?
Proteins are the building blocks of life. They provide all the necessary amino acids for our muscles, skin, hair, nails, and more. Protein powder is a convenient way to increase your protein intake anytime you need it. But what is the most bioavailable protein?
The most bioavailable means the protein that will be absorbed into our bodies with relative ease. Whey is a fast-acting protein source, but its amino acid availability can vary between 20% and 80%. In fact, researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch discovered four different fractions in whey’s peptide chain. The BCAAs make up close to half of whey’s total weight which contributes greatly to its overall benefits. Due to this, Whey protein is extremely bioavailable.
But, casein protein has a little higher bioavailability than whey, but it is still lower than egg protein. Some research suggests that egg protein can have a 94% bioavailability, making it the most bioavailable of all proteins studied to date.
How Can You Increase Proteins Bioavailability?
The bioavailability of a protein is the percentage of that protein that can be absorbed and used by the body. Bioavailability is affected by digestive conditions, food intake timing, and co-ingestion with other macronutrients. The higher the available amount of protein in your diet, the better your metabolism will function because amino acids are necessary for many bodily functions and processes such as muscle repair and formation.8
Bioavailability is typically measured by how much of the protein you consume can actually be found in the blood. Greater bioavailability means that more amino acids are used by your body, not excreted or otherwise lost to waste.9
Does Protein Bioavailability Matter?
In recent years, the debate over how much protein is necessary for optimal health has been a popular topic in the fitness world. Some experts say that it’s not about how many grams of protein you eat per day, but rather what type of protein you are eating. Protein bioavailability matters because if your body cannot absorb enough amino acids from the food you’re eating then it becomes less effective at building muscle mass and repairing damaged tissue after exercise.
However, others argue that too much emphasis on “bioavailability” can be counterproductive because it distracts people from focusing on other nutritional priorities like energy density and volumetrics.10
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1 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096 Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
2 http://beelitenutrition.com/2016/04/protein-bioavailability-what-you-should-know/ Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
3 https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/protein-bio-availability-explained.htm Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
4 https://www.thorne.com/take-5-daily/article/does-the-source-of-protein-in-your-diet-make-a-difference . Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
5 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pea-protein-powder Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
6 https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/health-talk-pea-protein-is-everywhere-is-it-healthy/ Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
7 https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-whey-protein/art-20363344 Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
8 https://www.healthshots.com/healthy-eating/nutrition/how-to-increase-protein-absorption-in-your-body/ Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
9 https://goldengateobgyn.org/how-to-help-your-body-absorb-protein/ Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p
10 http://beelitenutrition.com/2016/04/protein-bioavailability-what-you-should-know/ Accessed 13 Sep. 2021.</p