Protein is the most discussed macronutrient in sports nutrition. People often wonder how much protein to consume, how much is needed to build lean muscle and the role that protein serves in the body. The skeletal muscles contain nearly 65 percent of the body’s total protein. Protein is essential to all tissue cells in the body, not just muscle. Protein-rich foods include beef, fish, eggs, nuts, dairy and beans. Protein supplement sources include eggs, whey, soy and casein. Egg and whey protein are among the most popular protein supplements.
Egg protein is derived from consuming whole eggs or egg whites. Whey protein sources include whey protein powder or dairy products.
Four measurements are most often used to gauge protein quality: protein efficiency ratio, biological value, net protein utilization and chemical score. Protein efficiency is a measurement of animal growth as a result of consuming a fixed amount of protein. The biological value is a measure of the amount of protein the body retains. Net protein utilization is a measure of the amount of amino acids supplied by the protein source. Chemical score is a measure of the concentration of amino acids.
According to John Ivy and Robert Portman, authors of “Nutrient Timing,” compared with egg protein, whey protein ranks highest among all four measurements. Whey protein has a protein efficiency ratio of 3.9, a biological value of 104, net protein utilization of 92 and a chemical score a bit less than 100. Egg protein has a protein efficiency ratio of 2.2, a biological value of 74, net protein utilization of 61 and a chemical score of 69.
A disadvantage of whey protein is that it contains lactose. People with lactose intolerance may experience abdominal discomfort as a result. There are, however, lactose-free whey protein products on the market if whey is your desired protein supplement.
Egg protein is high quality and contains all the essential amino acids. Individuals concerned with lactose intolerance should consume egg protein. If egg protein powder is not available, egg whites are the next best source.
According to the authors of “Nutrient Timing,” whey protein offers numerous advantages. Whey protein contains all nine of the essential amino acids. It is easy to digest and also has a higher concentration of branched chain amino acids than any other protein source.
Egg protein is fat-free and rich in the amino acid leucine. According to Nutrition Today, leucine is a critical element in protein synthesis and could be the key amino acid for increasing muscle mass.
Researchers at Ball State University warn that protein supplementation can cause protein overload in the body. Problems with protein overload include dehydration and damage to muscles and kidneys. According to registered dietitian Kimberli Pike, there are so many protein supplements on the market that the FDA doesn’t have the manpower to regulate them. Consumers should research all protein supplements and be aware of possible harmful side effects.