Here’s what you need to know:

  • high quantity of protein doesn’t mean high quality of protein
  • Bio availability is often overlooked but crucial
  • Meat based protein is more bio available than plant based protein
  • If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you need to keep an eye out for amino acid profiles

When trying to make sure you get enough protein in your diet, the easy way is to just calculate the amount (1.2-2.0 gram per kg body weight) and roughly get that from your diet, and otherwise add it by supplementing.

There’s a catch with this, though. Just eating the amount of protein needed does not mean all of it is actually absorbed by the body. To make sure your body is actually absorbing most of the protein you’re eating, it’s smart to take a look at the bio-availability.

Animal proteins contain considerably more essential amino acids than vegetable proteins. Often they also have a higher biological quality. But they also often contain more (saturated) fat than vegetable sources. Be careful with processed types of sausage such as salami or luncheon meat, bacon.

Vegetable proteins:
nuts, seeds, pulses, grains, mushrooms.

Animal:
meat, fish, and animal products such as cheese and dairy eggs.

Quality of protein:

Proteins containing all essential amino acids are considered “full-fledged proteins”. A high biological value means that the amino acid composition corresponds optimally with our body protein.
For example, breast milk has a biological value of 100%
A chicken egg comes close with 97%
The Biologic value of proteins in grains, beans and bread is lower than that of a piece of chicken or fish.

Net protein utilisation:

Some proteins from food are not digested properly so that they are not easily absorbed. the NEU (net protein utilization) is very important for this.
To calculate the NEU use this formula D x B / 100

example: an egg

Digestibility is very high : 99%
bio value: 97%

97 x 99/100 = 96 NEU

 

In this chart it’s easy to see the difference in BA from different protein sources

Amino Acid Profiles:

There are 22 different amino acids. A huge variety of proteins can be formed from this.
9 amino acids are essential. That means that the body can not make them yourself. So you have to get them out of food. The rest of the amino acids can be created by the body itself.

While animal based products often carry all essential amino acids, a lot of plant based foods do not. In order to get the full spectrum of building blocks, certain foods should be combined. This is important especially for people with a vegan/vegetarian diet.

Essential amino acids:

Histidine
Leucine
Lysine
Methionine
Phenylanine
Threonine
Tryptophan
Valine

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