Are All Proteins Created Equal? The 2 Types of Protein

By Josh Bowen

As a young kid I was taught, "All men are created equal." As a young weightlifter I was taught, "Eat as much protein as you can no matter where it comes from." I plead the fifth on the first one but the second one is completely not true. And because I believed it, I have eaten a lot of bad food that I "thought" was going to build muscle, but ultimately didn't.

Well what is a protein?

Protein (short answer)-

A macro nutrient that repairs and helps build muscle tissue. There are 20 amino acids that comprise protein, 9 of those are considered essential.

Ok well what is an amino acid?

Amino Acid-

Amino acids are the structural units of protein. There are 20 amino acids

11 of them non-essential:

  • Alainine

  • Arginine

  • Asparagine

  • Aspartic Acid

  • Cysteine

  • Glutamic Acid

  • Glutamine

  • Glycine

  • Ornithine

  • Proline

  • Serine

  • Tyrosine

9 of them essential:

  • Valine

  • Isoleucine

  • Leucine

  • Tryptophan

  • Histidine

  • Methiononine

  • Phenylalaline

  • Threonine

What does that mean?

It means that, very simply, we need more of the essential amino acids in our diet than the non-essential. To break this down easily and apply to our everyday diet, we need to eat more complete proteins than non-complete proteins?

Isn't all protein created equal? If it says 20 grams of protein on the nutrition label that means its a good thing?

The difference between a complete protein and an incomplete protein is incomplete proteins are missing a few of the essential amino acid profiles. These typically fall into these categories:

  • Nuts

  • Grains

  • Beans

  • Seeds

Because these food groups are deficient in essential amino acids, they are not the best for building muscle and increasing metabolism.

Complete proteins fall into these categories:

  • Fish

  • Beef

  • Eggs

  • Chicken

  • Turkey

  • Whey

These foods (depending on preparation) tend to be digested and the nutrients used for the body's use in repair an muscle growth. For the sole purpose of muscle building and recovery the complete proteins should be eaten more so than the incomplete proteins.

*Foods can be combined to become complete proteins such as; peanut butter and wheat bread when combined have all 9 essential amino acid profiles.

To take this a step further, the preparation of the food will alter the amino acid profile. For instance, the meat at a fast food restaurant is filled with fillers and is not complete food, therefore counting it towards your protein intake does not count. Also, eating fried hot wings (though it may say 15 grams of protein) should not count toward your total either. We are looking for fresh water fish, non GMO, organic, complete food.

One last tip...

Instead of looking at how many grams of protein something has, look at the ingredients the food has. Can't pronounce the words? Don't buy it.

Yours in Fitness,