We all need protein, every day. Besides protein for weight loss, protein provides a litany of anti-aging benefits.
There are many types of plant and animal protein for us to choose from. What type is best – animal protein vs plant protein – is a question a lot of people never even think about.
Aren’t all proteins created equal? NOPE.
Most people assume it doesn’t matter what protein you eat, as long as you are eating protein. I used to think like that. I was wrong.
It wasn’t until my health and skin suffered terribly from eating a strict plant protein diet that I decided to dig deeper and educate myself on the difference between animal and plant protein. I learned quickly not all proteins are created equal.
PROTEIN IS ALL ABOUT THE AMINO ACIDS, the building blocks of protein.
Pick your protein based on the amino acids in the protein and job you want done in your body. For example: muscle building and repair - pick whey protein; fiber, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits - pick plant protein; collagen replenishment, better sleep, minimizing the menopot, better digestion and gut health, weight loss, wrinkle reduction, gut health, tighter skin - pick animal protein.
In a nutshell, there are hundreds of amino acids but only 20 (or 21, depending on what you read) of them are in our DNA and used by the body to make the protein we need for life. And, the amount or percentage of amino acids vary based on the protein you are consuming, which determines the job the protein will do. And some proteins do a better job than others on a particular task.
These proteins (amino acids) are used for making organs, including our skin; muscles and tendons and ligaments; transmitters that send instructions from the brain through the body; critical hormones that control major bodily functions; and so on. For example, the protein that comprises the scaffolding of our body, including our skin, hair, joints, etc., is called collagen protein.
TYPES OF ANIMAL PROTEIN AND PLANT PROTEIN
There are lots of different types of plant and animal protein out there we can eat including soy, pea, hemp, banana, broccoli, whey, bovine, chicken and fish but all of them are made up of a very different set and sequence of amino acids.
And once our body assimilates either a plant or animal protein, it is then the amino acids go to work to perform the tasks they were designed to do.
For example, animal protein is very high in Glycine, Proline and Hydroxyproline, the top amino acids necessary to trigger collagen synthesis. Where as plant protein is chock full of leucine, isoleucine and lysine – all of which are very important for regulating blood sugar, muscle strength, growth and energy. Both proteins. Both necessary. Both focusing on a very different, and important job.
SO, which protein is better for me? Animal Protein or Plant Protein?
Answer: they are both good for you and both necessary. The best approach is to balance out your amino acids by consuming both plant and animal protein to make up the shortfall of the other.
What is Plant Protein Best For?
Plant proteins have some very useful characteristics and should not be ignored as a daily protein source. Plant proteins come from many alternative sources so you can find one or more that suit you best. Choices include many types of nuts, seeds and beans, like chia, pea, quinoa, soy and on.
Plant proteins have little saturated fats and are very digestible. They have lots of fiber, and phytonutrients, with antioxidant and anti inflammatory benefits. And unlike some animal protein sources, organically grown plants are not grown with chemicals and hormones that are used in lesser quality animal sources. Plus they are often are produced with less environmental impact.
Sounds good, so why do we need animal protein at all?
What is Animal Protein Good For?
Animal protein is considered a high quality protein source. Animal protein also has a similar amino acid profile to that of humans. And because of that, animal protein is more bio-available and ready to be put to use to perform the task at hand. (Animal protein sources, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, are similar to the protein found in your body).
High quality animal-sourced protein has the potential to actually replenish the collagen in our bodies.
Remember we said that protein is made up of amino acids. The important amino acids in collagen protein in our body (more than 2/3 of the protein) are:
• Glycine - 26.2%
• Arginine -15.4%
• Proline - 10.1%
• Alanine - 9.3%
• Hydroxyproline - 8.2%
Here’s a comparison of the amino acids in the protein in a high-quality animal (bovine) protein blend – Triple K Drink – to that of plant based proteins, Soy and Whey:
The most striking feature of this amino acid chart is that the Whey and Soy protein amino acid profile has little or none of the essential amino acids that actually make up our body’s collagen. So, these sources might fill us up, but have no chance of assisting with collagen replenishment fostering improvements in our skin, hair, nails and joints, as animal source protein does.
So to answer the question: Which protein is better for me? Plant protein vs animal protein? The answer is both.
Each protein provides a combination and percentage of amino acids that perform functions for us to live and thrive on this planet. Plant proteins posses a litany of health benefits including heart health and cholesterol lowering.
Animal proteins contain various collagen boosting amino acids that plant proteins have either none, or very little of. And we all need collagen in our bodies - for our bones, our blood vessels, all of our organs, the scaffolding that holds us together and keeps us standing which includes healthy beautiful hair, skin and nails.
And as always, check with your health practitioner/medical doctor before you embark on any nutritional addition or submission of any dietary changes.
Until Next Time,
Growing Younger Everyday