Is Your Protein Source Digestible? Check How They Rank!

Did you know that not all proteins are created equal? We mean that quite literally.

protein digest

Did you know that not all proteins are created equal? We mean that quite literally.

There’s a common misconception that all protein is good protein, no matter the source. As long as you’re getting x amount of protein, then you’ve reached your daily intake and your body is healthily ticking along.

But what happens once we consume the protein? Is it completely digested and used for our bodily function? For the majority of protein sources, the answer is no.

When we compare two protein sources with each other, the amount of protein that is actually used by our bodies can vastly differ. For example, 50g of protein from eggs and 50g of protein from chickpeas may seem equal, but only one of these proteins is fully digested by the body.

It’s therefore important to consider the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of certain proteins.

PDCAAS is a method of evaluating the quality of protein based on our ability to digest it, and its biological value.

The nutritional value of proteins can differ substantially depending on the amino acids that they contain, in particular the essential amino acids, and digestibility. For example, protein in wheat has a lower PDCAAS, and our body can’t digest this protein as easily, meaning that our body cannot effectively absorb it.

The digestibility level of that protein you’re consuming is important because protein has essential functions that include everything from creating antibodies, muscular function, important chemical processes, giving cells their structure, as well as skin, nail and hair health. The amino acids in protein improve healing time, control blood pressure and help with blood clotting.

Therefore, if you’re only consuming protein that your body isn’t digesting properly, it could lead to some serious problems.

Which protein is best according to PDCAAS?

According to studies, it was found that animal sources provide a complete source of protein (i.e. containing all essential amino acids), whereas vegetable sources generally lack one or more of the essential amino acids.

Whey protein contains the highest levels of the essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids. It is a bioavailable protein source that is also rich in vitamins and minerals, with a PDCAAS of 1, which is the highest possible score.

As an added benefit, most of the fats, carbs and lactose in whey protein isolates are removed, meaning that many lactose intolerant individuals can consume whey protein isolate without suffering an intolerance.

Other sources of protein with a high PDCAAS include eggs, beef, soy, pea protein, and sacha inchi powder.

Proteins with a lower PDCAAS are either poorly digested or have limited essential amino acids.

A PDCAAS value of 1 is the highest, and 0 the lowest.

Source Of Protein PDCAAS
Whey Protein 1
Cow's Milk 1
Caseine (Milk Protein) 1
Eggs 1
Mycoprotein (From Fungi) 0.99
Beef 0.92
Pea Protein 0.89
Sacha Inchi Powder 0.87
Chickpeas / Soybeans 0.78
Black Beans 0.74
Vegetables 0.73
Legumes 0.70
Hemp Seeds 0.66
Fresh Fruit 0.64
Cooked Peas 0.59
Peanuts 0.52
Rice 0.50
Wheat 0.42
Wheat Gluten 0.25

So when you’re deciding on a source of protein, whether it’s for a post-workout recovery, or just dinner, it’s good to be aware of the quality of protein you’re consuming and how much of it will actually be used in your body.

It’s important to make sure you’re consuming a high-quality protein for your daily needs, such as after exercise and for energy throughout the day. The amino acids in a high-quality protein will help to enhance your recovery, energy, immunity, and overall wellness.

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