A Complete Protein

protein basicsMany companies are creating protein bars and shakes and what have you, and they are all typically based on total number of grams.  For example, Clif Builder Bars have 20 grams of protein.  What does this even mean?  What type of protein is in these bars and is “protein” the right thing we should be looking at?

The most important thing to know about protein is that they are made of Amino Acids.  Unfortunately amino acids don’t sound good in an advertisement.

The Tim bar is packed with 50 grams of Amino Acids . . .  Well, this doesn’t even make since because their are a bunch of different types of Amino Acids.  Protein is made up of amino acids.  It is kind of like the whole “All squares are rectangles, but not rectangles are squares.”  In this case all proteins are made up of various amino acids, but not all amino acids are in every protein.  I hope that made since.  But because carbohydrates, fats and proteins make up our diet it is easy to put the number of grams of protein on the nutrition label and call it good.

It is VERY important to know that there are different types of amino acids; essential and non-essential. Basically this means either our bodies can make them, NON-ESSENTIAL amino acids, or we have to eat them, ESSENTIAL amino acids.

So knowing this. If I gave you a bar with 20 grams of protein which was mostly comprised of Alanin (which is a non-essential amino acid) would this be worth you eating?  The answer is no, because our bodies make it anyway.  Although on the label you would think you are getting this awesome protein replacement bar.  I am not saying anyone does this, but it does happen.  There is a term called a Full or Whole protein.  This meas what ever it is you are eating has all the essential amino acids available.  Examples of this are eggs or a beans and rice plate.

Here is a table with all the essential and non-essential amino acids

Essential Nonessential **
Histidine Alanine
>Isoleucine Arginine*
Leucine Aspartate
Lysine Cysteine*
Methionine Glutamate
Phenylalanine Glutamine*
Threonine Glycine*
Tryptophan Proline*
Valine Serine*

(*) Essential only in certain cases.

(**) Pyrrolysine, sometimes considered “the 22nd amino acid”, is not listed here as it is not used by humans.

The following chart shows a comparison of then amino acids in 1 serving of a Soy Protein and a Whey Protein.  I also added an RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for each of the essentials (remember we have to eat these the rest we make ourselves) for a person with a weight of 170lbs.

Soy Whey RDA
Alanine 960mg 1550mg
Arginine 1910mg 500mg
Aspartate 2930mg 2300mg
Cystine 330mg 310mg
Glutamic Acid 4990mg 3290mg
Glycine 1030mg 700mg
Histidine 620mg 360mg 773mg
Isoleucine 1170mg 1240mg 1545mg
Leucine 1940mg 2300mg 3014mg
Lysine 1580mg 1770mg 2318mg
Methionine 310mg 350mg 1159mg
Phenylalanine 1310mg 580mg 1932mg
Proline 1310mg 1380mg
Serine 1310mg 1360mg
Threonine 910mg 1580mg 1159mg
Tryptophan 290mg 40mg 309mg
Tyrosine 960mg 450mg
Valine 1140mg 1330mg 2009mg
25000mg 21980mg



The chart above shows that the majority of the protein we are eating is stuff we are already making in our bodies!!!  This about this.  It is recommended that we eat about 1 gram of protein per kilogram we weight.  Keeping the math simple: divide your weight (170lbs) by 2 (85) and that is about the grams of protein you should be eating.  If you are exercising then you should increase this number slightly, if you aren’t decrease the number a bit.   The two examples above are anywhere from 22g – 25g of protein.  That would mean for one serving of the stuff above I would have about 1/4th of my entire daily needs.  With about half of those amino acids being something I don’t need because my body can make them.

Don’t forget that almost everything we eat has protein in it.  Getting these daily allowances is really easy on a typical American diet. According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey the average American consumes nearly twice the recommended daily allowance and they aren’t even taking supplements.  This is just with a NORMAL diet.

So now you know a little more about protein or should I say essential amino acids.  You also know that if you are eating then you most likely are eating twice the recommended amount a protein every day.  Therefore, now that you know this you should also know that you don’t need PROTEIN powders, bars, shakes, etc., because you are already eating enough. And yet, in case of intensive exercising you might be interested in some of ProteinPromo.com products.

If you have a poor diet and you aren’t eating protein then you should, but for the average American you do not need to eat more Amino Acids!  You are good! Filled to the Brim and you have enough to give your neighbor!


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