Protein From A To Z

Protein From A To ZBy George L. Redmon, Ph.D., N.D.

Over the last decade, researchers have elucidated the fact that in order to speed up one’s metabolic rate, you must eat, not diet. Researchers have also discovered how certain individual foods and combinations can increase your fat-burning potential. One individual macronutrient, namely protein, has been found to substantially raise the metabolic rate and promote fat loss. In fact, a high-protein meal can raise metabolism about 25 percent above normal, in contrast to a high-carbohydrate meal, at about 5 percent.

Protein also prevents fat storage by countering the fat-storing actions of insulin, via stimulation of the hormone glucagon, which actually encourages the burning of fatty acids.

While there are many different forms and kinds of protein, they all have nutritional and fat-burning benefits. If you want to lose weight, aim for 20-25 grams of protein per meal (the amount that helps maximize protein synthesis) and choose snacks that contain protein as well. The synopsis below reviews many of the different forms you have to choose from.


1. Whey
The gold standard of proteins, whey is essentially 20 percent of milk. Whey is a fast-releasing protein, flooding the bloodstream with amino acids, usually within 45 minutes. Great for quick recovery and repair of muscle tissue, following a workout.

2. Casein
Casein makes up roughly 80 percent of the protein in cow’s milk. Known as a time-released protein, it forms a gel in the stomach. This causes the release of amino acids over a period of time (up to seven hours). Great as a nighttime protein during sleep, when the body isn’t getting any nutrients or in-between meals.

3. Pea
Considered to be of poor quality in relationship to muscle repair. However, when combined with other plant foods, it does provide a complete protein source.

4. Hemp
Contains all of the known amino acids. This vegetable protein is more biologically available for use by human tissue than soy protein, and provides a 3-to-1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, thus having anti-inflammatory and additional fat-burning capabilities.

5. Soy
A complete protein that, because of its isoflavone content, is also used to counter a number of female disturbances (hot flashes, PMS). Studies show soy to be just as effective at preventing, preserving and repairing lean muscle tissue as whey protein.

6. Whey Isolate
Isolates are composed of 90-96 percent protein, containing small amounts of lactose and virtually no fat. Isolates are considered to be biologically superior to concentrates, due to their higher biological value and pure protein content.

7. Hydrolysates
These proteins have undergone hydrolysis, a process which breaks down and divides proteins into many different amino acids, as smaller fractions. This process allows for easier digestion and assimilation of protein.

8. Egg
A rich source of essential amino acids and has a high BV rating. It has a 97 percent digestibility ratio, meaning 97 percent of it is absorbed as amino acids. This facilitates the synthesis of new muscle protein.

9. Concentrated
Concentrated protein goes through the initial phase of protein processing and generally contains about 70 to 85 percent protein. It is considered to be inferior to a protein isolate, retaining much of the fat and lactose.

10. Rice
A complete protein extracted, from brown rice, it is hypoallergenic and suitable for vegetarians. Compared to other vegetable proteins, it has a higher protein utilization ratio (how well body is utilizing the protein consumed) and biological value.


Protein From A To Z11. Biological Value (BV)
This measures how well the body absorbs and utilizes a protein. A protein having a high biological value (90 to 100 or above), the more nitrogen you retain and the better you are at developing and repairing lean muscle tissue. Egg and whey have high nitrogen retention rates.

12. Incomplete Proteins
These proteins, usually from plant sources alone, don’t supply all of the essential amino acids needed to build cells. These protein sources are grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

13. Amino Acids
The basic building blocks of protein. They are formed as a result of complete protein digestion and do the repair work involved in muscle tissue breakdown, fat-burning, immunity, mood elevation and a host of other physiological processes. There are 22 known amino acids, some nonessential (eight), and the others being essential, meaning the body can’t manufacture them and they must be supplied via the diet.

14. Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Iso-leucine, leucine and valine. They assist in muscle repair almost immediately, as they bypass the digestive track for breakdown and are metabolized right in the muscle tissue.

15. Complete Proteins
Animal proteins like meat, fish, poultry and milk, cheese and eggs are complete proteins. Complete proteins supply adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids the body needs for growth and repair.

16. Glycomarco Proteins
Fractions of casein protein that are also found in whey protein. They enhance the release of the enzyme cholecystokinin (CCK), which signals to the brain that you are full, essentially suppressing appetite.

17. Protein Isolate
A protein isolate goes through additional processing, more so than a concentrate and tend to have a greater percentage of the protein intact (90 to 94 percent) and virtually no fat.

18. Catabolic
Refers to the tearing down state of the body— its non-recuperative state. Anti-catabolic refers to nutrients like protein, which can neutralize or minimize catabolic activities.

19. Free Amino Acid Pool
Amino acids that are available to be called upon to prevent or slow down catabolic activities. When there aren’t enough available, the body will break down existing muscle tissue to keep this pool full, which is replaced about six times a day. Hence the importance of several small meals and nutritional snacks, to keep muscle repair and fat burning processes on high alert.


By nature, you are an interminable energy factory, capable of converting, storing and using endless amounts of energy. Researchers now know that via this dynamic energy flow, you can control weight via certain food combinations and sources such as protein. To do so, however, you must plan your meals and exercise routines to maximize your fat-burning potential.

For example, researchers at the University of Munich in Germany showed that meal timing, dietary composition and exercise influenced post-exercise fat metabolism. Studies conducted at the University of California in Berkeley revealed that the body uses mainly fat as a fuel at exercise intensities below 65 percent of maximum effort.

Additionally, obese individuals who exercised moderately for 30 minutes consumed meals high in either proteins or carbohydrates. The high-carbohydrate meal inhibited fat release after exercise, while the high-protein meal promoted fat-burning. These researchers, however, found that by ingesting carbohydrates two hours before exercise, post-exercise fat-burning was applicable to consuming a high-protein meal afterward.

The bottom line here? To maximize your fat-burning potential, consume a high-protein low-carbohydrate meal after training. This will boost those metabolic fires, and help restore liver and muscle glycogen stores for energy, and promote tissue repair and decrease fat storage.


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