By Nutritionist, Hannah Norris
What is a complete protein?
We classify protein sources as complete (e.g. clear whey protein isolate ) and not complete (e.g. pea protein or collagen). The reason this is important is not all protein is created equal and we need to understand certain amino acids are particularly important in certain situations, for example leucine (both an essential and branch chain amino acid) is critical in the muscle synthesis pathway. Without circulating and adequate leucine, it doesn’t matter how much protein you have, muscle building simply won’t happen.
Have you ever heard “broccoli contains more protein than steak”? Well gram for gram it does, but when you consider 100g of steak vs. 100g broccoli there’s a significant difference in volume, so you’d need to have several bowls of broccoli to get the same amount as a small steak. Plus, steak will provide you all essential and non-essential amino acids, whilst broccoli only contains 6 out of 9 essential amino acids i.e. it’s not a complete protein.
Gelatine/Collagen is another example; a potentially beneficial protein source for skin health, gut lining and joints, but lacks tryptophan so is not great for nutrition surrounding exercise.
Both the highest quality and highest amount of protein is found in meats, poultry and fish, eggs and dairy products including clear whey protein. Tofu is one of the only vegan proteins that is high in protein and considered complete.
However, many other foods provide us protein such as many vegetables including broccoli, mushrooms and green beans, beans and legumes (for e.g. lentils, chickpeas and peanuts) nuts, seeds, fruits, grains and combining these proteins when on a vegan or veggie diet will ensure all the required amino acids. An example of this, the amino acids lacking in peanut butter is made up by amino acids found in whole wheat bread, and rice with beans.
So what is clear whey protein isolate?
Clear whey protein is a form of whey, found naturally in dairy products. Whey is processed to filter and remove lactose, carbohydrates, and fats to produce clear whey protein isolate.
Why is clear whey protein beneficial?
Due to the filtration process clear whey protein has a less creamy texture, is very quickly digested and considered a high-quality protein with a complete amino acid profile. According to Protein Digestibility-corrected Amino Acid Score, whey including clear whey isolate is scored very highly. It contains practically no lactose, meaning it is suitable for most people with lactose intolerance. Upbeat protein drinks use clear whey protein isolate and contain a high amount of the oh so important Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) leucine, valine and iso-leucine which is critical for muscle recovery.