We all know that an ambitious athlete has to carefully watch their protein intake. Beside the fact, that a lot of people aim for a muscular physique or to replace body fat with lean muscle mass, whenever you workout you destroy muscle cells, which your body wants to replace. The building blocks for muscle cells, called amino acids, are coming from protein, which are split up with the help of enzymes into smaller parts, first into peptides and finally into the amino acids.
The most popular protein source for sporty people is a whey protein shake – you can take the powder with you and just blend it after your training with water, quick and easy and to be honest, almost everyone is not in the mood for eating a chicken breast after a bone crushing, ass-kicking and sweaty workout!
Many people know about the benefits of a protein shake and accept the side effects like a bloated stomach and it´s stinky outcome as part of the game.
What if we tell you, that those signs show that your protein shake was more or less useless? Sucks big time right? Let me explain you a bit about protein digestion first before giving you the ultimate advice how to get as much as possible out of your protein shake!
Protein needs an acid environment to digest, the whole process starts in the stomach and in the small intestine digestive enzymes break the protein down into peptides and amino acids.
Keeping it simple
The higher the quality of your protein powder is the easier it is for your body to digest. Which means a cheap whey protein concentrate or a fake isolate blend (many companies highlight their whey protein as a whey protein isolate but in fact it only contains 20-30% isolate and 60-70% concentrate) will cause much more “work” for your digestive system to break it down into the wanted muscle cell building blocks, than an already carefully processed whey protein like a whey protein hydrolysate and this hard work results not only in a poor absorption rate of the protein but also in a bloated stomach.
But that's not all – there is a timeframe for protein transition in the intestine which is 90 minutes, after that all the protein is not ending in your muscles but in your toilet bowl. Pretty stupid or? Well, good thing that there is science!
A study published by the Journal of Sports Nutrition reported that it took subjects four hours to increase the blood amino acid concentration by 30 percent with whey protein alone, but if subjects mixed their whey protein with digestive enzymes system the absorption rate increased by a marvelous 127% *.
What are digestive enzymes?
Enzymes are an essential part of any chemical reaction that takes place in your body. Many biological reactions, such as digesting food, brain-activity, cellular energy and the repair process of tissue, organs and cells are regulated by enzymes.
To name the most important ones it´s:
α–Amylase: breaks down carbohydrates, like starch, glycogen and polysaccharides into smaller units
Protease: breaks down protein into peptides and amino acids, supports immune function
Lactase: breaks down lactose and is useful for people with lactose intolerance.
Cellulase: breaks down cellulose and chitin and it helps to free nutrients in fruits and veggies
By combining whey protein and digestive enzymes it's much easier for your body to break down nutrients into the wanted building blocks and to maximize absorption!
This is not only limited to protein digestion. Multi enzyme blends help to break down all food that enters your body depending on the type of enzyme blend that is used. In doing this it improves overall digestion and gut health.
Take home message:
- Look for a 100% whey protein hydrolyzed isolate which is either combined with an enzymatic blend like DigeZyme or always take a multi enzyme supplement before your whey protein shake to absorb the maximum amount of protein from your shake instead of making your body excretions stupid-expensive
*Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2008, An open label study to determine the effects of an oral proteolytic enzyme system on whey protein concentrate metabolism in healthy males (Julius Oben, Shil C Kothari and Mark L Anderson)