There is a big misconception among the general public that a gram of protein is simply a gram of protein, regardless of the source.
This misconception makes many people believe that as long as they eat a certain amount of protein per day that's all that matters.
Unfortunately there is one huge problem with this approach…
Therefore you should definitely consider where your protein is coming from, what it is comprised of, and what it's bioavailability is when you are creating your diet.
Here's what you need to know…
Essential Amino Acids vs. Non-Essential Amino Acids
All proteins are comprised of essential and non-essential amino acids.
The difference between essential and non-essential amino acids is simply that essential amino acids are proteins your body can’t create by itself.
These essential amino acids must be ingested from external sources to properly supply your body each and every day.
Non-essential amino acids on the other hand can be manufactured by your body, so you needn't worry about them as much.
Many foods that are indirect sources of protein are lacking one or more essential amino acids necessary for maximized muscular recovery in the body.
These indirect sources of protein are things like nuts, oats, grains, almond milk, etc.
However, to properly engage in protein synthesis and the muscle recovery/growth process, you need an adequate intake of essential amino acids.
If you do not ingest sources of protein that are rich in essential amino acids, it will ultimately lead to worse levels of muscular recovery and growth.
Some examples of complete proteins—proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids—are red meat, white meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, whey, and soy.
By mixing these together you can ensure that you have healthy, high quality, protein-rich meals to dine on!
But the quality of your protein source is not the only thing you need to think about.
The bioavailability of that protein source is equally as important.
The Bioavailability Of Protein
All protein sources have varying degrees of bioavailability.
The bioavailability of protein represents the percentage of protein that your body actually processes when you eat something.
For example, if you eat 10 grams of protein from a source that has a 50% bioavailability rating, then that means your body will absorb and use 5 grams of protein from what you just ate.
This is not just limited to protein.
Bioavailability rates effect everything that you eat or drink.
The digestive system in the human body simply absorbs certain substances better than others.
Ideally, you want to compose your diet with protein sources that are the most bioavailable.
This will ensure that your muscles are getting the most ‘bang-for-your-buck' from the food that you are eating.
To help give you an idea of the highest bioavailable forms of compete proteins here is an example list from most to least bioavailable:
- Whey Protein (Most bioavailability)
- Soy (Least bioavailability)
After complete proteins comes the list of non-complete proteins which you don't really need to worry about because your protein intake should be focused on high quality complete proteins.
Here is a general rule of thumb that will keep you on the right track:
Always try to eat highly-bioavailable, complete protein sources.
If you try to get your protein requirements filled each day solely via incomplete proteins with low bioavailability, then you will end up overeating calories and gaining tons of unnecessary fat.
Just to get your protein intake high enough each day for adequate muscle growth and recovery.
It's much better to steer clear of low quality protein sources and instead properly fuel your body with complete proteins.
Luckily, the most bioavailable protein source is also the quickest and easiest to incorporate into any diet plan whether you are cutting or bulking.
The Most Bioavailable Protein Source is Whey Protein
It contains all essential macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) as well as all of the essential amino acids that your body needs to build strong muscles.
When whey protein is intelligently processed, it provides the greatest biological value of all proteins.