There are many different types of protein, yet all contain the same basic building blocks. These building blocks are known as amino acids, and they play many critical roles in the body. It is the arrangement of amino acids that determines the type and function of protein. Amino acids are used for processes such as building proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters as well are making muscles, tendons, organs, and skin. Amino acids come in two categories: essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids.
Non Essential and Essential Amino Acids
There are 20 different amino acids that combine to form proteins. Although all 20 are required, your body can only make 11 amino acids. These 11 amino acids are known as non-essential amino acids (NEAAs). The other 9 cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from the food or supplements we consume. These nine are called the essential amino acids (EAAs), and they include histidine, isoleucine, lysine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. The nine EEAs play a multitude of roles in the body including digestion, muscle development, tissue repair, regulating mood, and tissue repair.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) aren’t any other amino acids, they are simply three of the nine EAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids are both essential and branched-chain. Branched-chain mean that they have a chemical structure that makes them look like little trees with branches. The trio of amino acids that make up the BCAA is especially important for alleviating fatigue and repairing and growing muscles.
Collagen is one type of protein made up of 19 amino acids. The structure of collagen includes essential and non essential amino acids. However, collagen has long been considered an inferior protein because it lacks tryptophan, one of the nine essential amino acids. Collagen is usually supplemented for joint health, and other studies related to hair, skin, and nails need more data. Oftentimes these studies do not consider dietary protein intake, which may confound and skew the data. It is possible that the studied populations simply are not consuming enough protein overall, which is why they see benefits when increasing their total protein intake, not just collagen specifically. If you do choose to supplement with collagen, it is best to consume with a source of vitamin C.
Muscle Protein Synthesis
The protein you consume in foods and supplements influences muscle protein synthesis (MPS). MPS is the process of incorporating amino acids into skeletal muscle proteins. Essentially, it is how your muscles get stronger and recover post workout. But what combination of amino acids has the greatest effect on MPS?
When you take a BCAA supplement, you start a series of signals telling your body to build muscle. The BCAA leucine in particular appears to the be the “metabolic switch” for muscle protein synthesis. However, signaling is only part of the equation. In order to actually build or repair muscle, you need all the EAAs.
Therefore, neither a BCAA supplement nor a collagen supplement, will enhance MPS optimally.
In both supplements, EAAs are missing. That means the missing EAAs will be stripped from other muscle tissue to repair the damage caused elsewhere.
Increased muscle repair and development will only come from the consumption of all nine EAAs in a protein supplement or food.
Animal based protein supplements (casein, whey, etc) contain all nine essential amino acids in adequate amounts. This composition makes animal protein sources ideal for MPS. However, animal based protein supplementation has been found to decrease colon microbiota diversity. This can have a sginificient effect on various health parameters in athletes, including immune function, weight management, psychological health, musculoskeletal conditions, asthma, and allergies.
Unlike animal proteins, research has found that consuming plant-based protein supplements (pea, soy, hemp, etc) decreases the number of harmful bacteria in the gut while increasing the good bacteria. However, plant proteins are usually low in one or more of the essential amino acids, making them inefficient catalysts for MPS.
Putting it All Together
So, what protein supplement is best for both MPS and gut health?
CorePerform is the first optimized amino acid blend of plant-based protein that has the same effect as whey protein without GI distress! Additionally, CorePerform is free of the top 9 allergens. Ensure you are getting adequate gut healing protein in your diet by incorporating CorePerform Protein into your daily routine.