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Protein 101

protein source

Protein, Protein, Protein, you gotta take protein to build muscle right? It’s true, Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles and without it we can’t build muscle at all.

So what’s in your Protein anyways? Well, protein is made up of 21 different amino acids, and when protein is consumed it’s broken down by enzymes in your body resulting in amino acids, which are then absorbed by the muscles. So basically amino acids are what actually make your muscle. You may be taking Aminos already, so we’ll tackle that subject later.

The 21 different amino acids that make up protein fall into 3 categories.

  • Non-Essential Amino Acids: These are amino acids that CAN be produced by the human body, therefore they are not essential to consume through diet. They are: Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Arginine, and Tyrosine.
  • Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s): These are amino acids that CANNOT be produced by the human body and must be obtained through food or supplementation. They are: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine.
  • Conditionally Essential Amino Acids: This is the newest way to categorize two very special amino acids: Arginine and Glutamine. As mentioned above Arginine and Glutamine are non-essential amino acids meaning the body has the ability to create them on its own. The reason Arginine and Glutamine also fall into the conditionally essential group is because under certain stressful conditions such as: exercise or illness; both Arginine and Glutamine can be taken in abundance through supplementation for a profound effect on the human body.
protein powder

Remember this: The human body cannot store amino acids or protein for later use, making it crucial to consume protein every few hours in order to maintain protein synthesis.

Protein Synthesis & Protein Sources Now

Now let’s talk about Protein Synthesis and where to get your protein from. Protein synthesis is defined as the environment in which the body is able to build or maintain muscle tissue. Sounds good, but how can you achieve this environment? Well, you EAT PROTEIN of course! Now that you’re craving some muscle building protein, what should you eat? Check this out.

Protein generally comes from food sources such as: Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish, Milk, Cheese, and Eggs. These are known as “complete proteins” which means they contain all of the 9 essential amino acids. Vegetarian sources of complete protein include Quinoa, Soy, and Sprouted Breads such as Ezekial Bread.


Incomplete proteins come from vegetarian sources such as nuts, grains, and legumes and do not contain all 9 essential amino acids. For vegetarians, certain foods can be combined to make complete proteins, but on their own they are missing key essential amino acids. Example: by combining rice and beans or peanut butter and toast you can make a complete protein!

Protein can also come in a supplement form as a protein shake. Protein shakes usually consist of a combination of Whey, Soy, Egg, Casein and and or Milk Proteins. Protein shakes are complete proteins and can be used in conjunction with, or in place of foods.

A common question I get asked is, are there benefits to drinking protein shakes over eating food? I never recommend drinking shakes over eating food, but there are certain money and time saving benefits to drinking a shake or two per day.

  • Protein shakes are usually more cost effective than eating food.
  • Protein shakes can be made and consumed in a fraction of the time.
  • Compared to most foods, protein shakes have significantly less or no fat or cholesterol.
  • Some protein shakes have the ability to digest almost immediately, supplying the body with a large dose of amino acids whereas food can take up to several hours to fully digest.

How much protein do I need and when should I consume it?

  • In order to maintain protein synthesis, a person should consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight each and every day. Lean body weight refers to your weight minus your body fat.
  • Because the body cannot store protein for later use, the daily protein requirement should be spread throughout the day and should be consumed every 4-5 hours.
  • In general, people should be eating three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) consisting of a complete protein source, and three protein shakes that are to be taken in-between meals (remember protein every few hours).
  • The most crucial time to consume a protein shake is after a strenuous workout and before bed to enhance recovery. Taking these shakes supplies the body with a large dose of amino acids that will promote muscle repair and recovery as well as promote protein synthesis.

5 Main Sources of Protein Shakes

  1. Whey Hydrolysate
  2. Whey Isolate
  3. Whey Concentrate
  4. Egg
  5. Casein

Whey Hydrolysate– Absorbs immediately / done digesting within 20 minutes 

Whey Isolate– Absorbs in about 15 minutes / done digesting within 45 minutes  

Whey Concentrate -Absorbs in about 45 minutes / done digesting within 45 minutes 

Egg– Absorbs in about 45 minutes / done digesting within 1.5 – 3 hours

Casein– Absorbs in about 45 minutes-1 hour / done digesting within 3 – 5 hours

protein powder recipes
In order to build muscle or enhance recovery, you’ll need to keep your body in protein synthesis 24/7. This means that your body will be in a “muscle building environment” instead of a catabolic or muscle eating environment. Keeping your body supplied with protein throughout the day will accomplish this goal. Our options when it comes to a protein shake are:
  • A single source protein (having only one of the above listed proteins)
  • A multi-source protein which would consist of more than one of the above listed proteins

When a product contains Whey, as well as Egg and Casein, it is considered a “time-released” or “multi-source” protein.

A multi-source protein can offer the advantage of varied absorption rates regulated by each protein. Therefore, one will get the advantages of what Whey offers in its fast absorption rate, as well as the lengthy absorption of Egg and Casein proteins.


Dock Ondricka is a well-rounded individual with a passion for both fitness and writing. He is a fitness enthusiast with a wealth of knowledge in the field. He has been involved in the fitness industry for many years and has helped countless individuals reach their fitness goals. Dock's writing career began as a way to share his knowledge and help others on their fitness journey. He has written several articles and books on fitness and health, sharing his expertise and experience with readers. He is also a versatile writer, who is capable of writing in different genres, including fiction and non-fiction. When he's not writing or working out, Dock enjoys spending time with his family, trying new recipes and travelling.