We all know that protein plays an important role in our bodies ability to function. Protein is found in every cell within the body. It’s a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. To put it simply, the human body would wither away without a steady dose of protein. But where does protein come from?
There is no shortage of sources of protein out there. But not all protein sources are equal. We’re going to take a look at where protein comes from and the best ways to get protein.
Where Does Protein Come From? Animals and Plants
The protein that we consume can be broken down into two categories: animal-based and plant-based. The most common animal-based proteins are whey and casein. Whey and casein are considered animal-based proteins because they come from cows. More specifically, whey and casein are by-products that are produced during the cheese making process.
On the other hand, plant-based proteins are found in plants – duh. There are a wide variety of plants that contain protein. The most common plant-based protein is pea protein. However, chia and hemp protein are also fairly common.
Animal and Plant Proteins Can Be Complete Protein Sources
Both animal-based and plant-based proteins contain amino acids. There are 22 amino acids that make up a complete amino acid profile. Amino acids are what makes up protein. And amino acids are responsible for helping the body maintain healthy tissue in its muscle, bones, skin and hair.
Of the 22 amino acids, there are nine that are considered essential. These essential amino acids are the ones that the human body isn’t capable of producing on its own. Thus, we must provide our bodies with these nine essential amino acids through proper dieting.
Both animal-based proteins, whey and casein, are what we refer to as ‘complete protein’. This means that the protein source contains all nine of the essential amino acids.
On the same token, many plant-based proteins are also complete proteins. However, not all plant-based proteins are. That’s why we only recommend plant-based protein sources that are complete proteins – like chia, hemp and pea protein. Other proteins, like soy for example, are incomplete protein sources.
It’s important to keep in mind that being an incomplete protein source isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, when it comes to eating plant-based protein powders, it’s important to keep an eye on the nutritional profile of the individual protein source. Not all protein sources are equal. If you’re like us and opt for plant-based protein sources, the best option is to consume a variety of different plant-based protein sources as opposed to just one.
What’s the Most Popular Form of Protein?
When it comes to protein sources, whey has seemingly always been the most popular option. Whey was the first protein powder to become manufactured and commercialized. And for decades now, people have assumed that whey protein is the best protein option.
However, in recent years, studies have attributed negative effects to the use of whey protein. It’s believed that approximately 65% of people will have some type of adverse reaction to regularly consuming whey. These negative effects include things like bloating and fatigue.
So, while whey protein has long been the most popular protein choice, it’s starting to lose its grip on the fitness industry. People are searching for whey protein alternatives and they’re finding alternatives in plant-based proteins.
The Increasing Popularity of Plant-Based Proteins
Plant-based proteins are starting to become more popular. There are a variety of reasons as to why plant-based proteins are gaining steam. As we mentioned above, people who are suffering from adverse effects of whey protein are looking for whey protein alternatives. Those people have found that the main benefit of plant-based proteins is that they’re generally allergy free and don’t contain many of the additives used to create whey protein. Ultimately, this allows plant-based proteins to be much friendlier for the digestive tract – so no more bloating or fatigue.
On the same note, more and more people are seeking alternatives to animal-based products. The rise of veganism and plant-based eaters is continuing to rise. It’s estimated that around 6% of America now identifies themselves as vegan. And, there are a large number of vegetarians and people who simply prefer plant-based foods to animal-based foods. These people all rely on plant-based protein sources like chia, hemp and pea protein.
What Plant-Based Protein is the Most Popular?
Most people who switch from animal-based proteins to plant-based proteins ultimately land on pea protein powder. Pea protein powder is the most comparable protein to whey. Because whey protein and pea protein have a very similar protein content – around 80% of protein per serving (although this can vary depending on the individual product).
Since protein is typically taken to aid in obtaining a health and fitness goal, it makes sense that most people who buy it are looking to either build muscle or lose weight. In order for the body to build muscle mass – it needs protein. Likewise, people must consume more protein in order to lose weight.
The high protein content of pea protein powder is idea for both building muscle and losing weight. It contains enough protein to help your body repair torn muscle fibers when working out. It also contains enough protein to provide your body with energy when you reduce your carbohydrate intake while dieting.
So, Where Does Protein Come From?
When it comes to answering the question “where does protein come from?” the simple answer is that it either comes from animals or plants. The truth is that protein is in almost everything that we consume. And people in America rarely have a hard time consuming the amounts of protein that their bodies need to thrive.
Unless you’re working to build and maintain muscle mass or to lose weight, you’re probably already consuming a decent amount of protein. If you need to up your protein intake to achieve a health or fitness goal, then there are several quick and easy ways to do it. We recommend getting started with these high protein recipes!