What Even Is Protein?

What Even Is Protein?

Protein powder can be found just about anywhere now. There are so many different variations and flavors, it's hard to keep track what is currently trending. And while it certainly is promising that protein is starting to get the attention it deserves as being a key macronutrient for overall health, not just building muscle, there is still a lot of confusion about protein. So first off, what even is a protein?

A protein is simply a combination of amino acids! There are hundreds of amino acids, but there are only 20 that are the building blocks of proteins. These are called proteinogenic amino acids. These 20 can further be classified as essential, non-essential, and conditionally essential. An essential amino acid is one that the body is unable to synthesize on its own, meaning it must be consumed in your diet. Your body is able to synthesize non-essential amino acids on its own, and can usually do so as well for the conditionally essential amino acids. However, there are circumstances when these conditionally essential amino acids become essential; like if your immune system is being attacked. You supply your body with these 20 amino acids when you consume enough protein. But how much is enough?

Well according to the Institute of Medicine, the RDA for dietary protein for adults is 0.8 grams/kg bodyweight. Which would equate to just over 70 grams of protein for a 200 pound individual. However, there has been several research studies and articles that have come to the conclusion or made the argument that the RDA for protein is too low. And that consuming a higher amount may be necessary, or will at least provide several beneficial effects on the body. The Institute of Medicine also supports these findings because it has not set an Upper Limit for protein. Meaning, unless someone has a preexisting kidney or liver issue, they can consume very high amounts of proteins without any risks. Bottom line, get as much protein as you can!

But maybe you're thinking, if amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, can't I just take one these thousands of amino acid supplements out there like BCAAs? The short answer is no. The long answer takes a bit of explaining. First off, BCAAs are just three amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine) that have a common similarity in their molecular structure. BCAA powder is not very special, but the amino acid Leucine is very special and is what makes BCAAs "work". Leucine is unique in the fact that is can stimulate muscle protein synthesis by activating the mTOR signaling pathway more effectively than any other amino acid. Which means Leucine is responsible for most of the anabolic effects of protein! However, that does not mean you can just take Leucine powder alone and call it a day.

Although Leucine has quite the superpower, that superpower is very short lived unless it is accompanied by all it's other amino acid superheroes. Sure it can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, but that does no good unless all the other amino acid building blocks eventually get there to actually build muscle. Meaning, it does not matter if it is a BCAA powder, an essential amino acid blend, or any other amino acid supplement; it will never be as good as actual protein.

Protein can be obviously be found in animal based foods like meat or eggs, but it can also be found in many plant based foods like rice, beans, lentils, or chickpeas. There is also no shortage of protein powder out there. Our Pinnacle Protein Powder is currently in production and will be available soon! And while you are waiting to get this critical macronutrient supplemented, you should make sure your body is getting all the micronutrients it requires. So check out our Pinnacle Women's and Men's Multis, and get one step closer to Reaching Your Pinnacle!