Damn Good’s most important unique selling point is the 15 grams of whey we managed to pack into a 250ml can. In this series of articles I’d like to explain why we added protein.
Protein in studies
Since 2010 I’ve written hundreds of articles on training, nutrition and supplements. No nutrient has received more of my attention than protein. And not just mine. Far greater minds have studied the effects of protein in general on body weight and composition for decades now. Protein is the most studied nutritional supplement, partly due to its popularity among athletes and its use as a tool for weight loss.
In this series of articles I’ll try my best to do justice to this huge body of work done by researchers world wide. But also, I’ll try to keep it simpel which is inherently impossible.
I’ll divide the subject into the multiple subs:
- What is protein?
- Protein and muscle mass
- Protein and body fat
- Whey protein vs other sources of protein
- Animal protein (like whey) vs vegetable protein
But let’s start at the beginning.
What is Protein?
Proteins are chains of amino acids, the building blocks of life. Which of these amino acids a protein contains and how much, differs between different types of protein.
Amino acids are often called the building blocks of life. They are needed for the formation of many types of bodily tissue. In fact, only water is more abundantly present in the body than proteins formed by these amino acids. One of those tissues formed by amino acids is muscle mass.
All proteins in our body could be formed thanks to proteins in our diets. Proteins formed in plants or proteins in animals eating those plants.
Amino acids are like life’s Lego. Proteins are like pre build Lego packs.
Provider of energy
Dietary proteins are one of the three so called macro nutrients, next to carbohydrates and fats. These are called macro nutrients because they can be used to fuel the body. As opposed to micro nutrients, vitamines and minerals, which can rather be considered a maintenance crew.
Preferably the body uses carbohydrates as fuel.
Blood glucose is the most important and primary fuel source to the human body. The sugars that form carbohydrates are easily converted into glucose. One gram of sugar potentially provides the body with 4 kcal of energy.
Different kinds of carbohydrates are converted into glucose in different speeds. Simple, refined sugars are the fastest way to provide your body with energy. Sounds great, but of course there’s a downside. More on that when we talk about body fat. But first more on the other type of fat.
Dietary fats are sometimes called the secondary fuel source. Although dietary fats contain more than twice as much energy as sugars (9 kcal per gram), converting them to glucose costs more energy (and time) than with sugars. The body has to work harder to release and use this energy.
There are lots of different dietary fats made of different chains of fatty acids, or ‘(tri)glycerides’, that comprise them. Dietary fats are required for a multiple of biological functions. For example some vitamins (A,D,E & K) can only dissolve in fat and not water. Without these fats in the body you wouldn’t be able to get the benefits from these essential micro nutrients. Also fats are necessary for the production of important hormones like cholesterol which in turn is needed to produce testosteron.
Like dietary fats, proteins are not used as a primary source of fuel. Like in the case of fats, the body has to work relatively harder to convert proteins to energy. But unlike fats, proteins delivers just 4 kcal per gram.
Protein can be used as energy. But just like carbs and fats it needs to be converted to glucose first. Since the amino acids are needed for maintaining so many different types of tissue and functions, being used as energy isn’t their priority. Especially when enough glucose is present.
Protein, muscle and fat
In the next part of this series I’ll dive a little deeper in proteins role as a builder and protector of muscle mass. In the third part I’ll describe proteins role in bodyfat and weight loss.