High-Protein Diet 5 MIN READ 349 VIEWS August 20, 2021

Understanding Absorption of Protein And How It Affects Our Body

Written By Jyoti Jaswal

absorption of protein

Protein is one of the main building blocks of nutrition required by our body in order to carry out essential functions. It primarily consists of amino acids which are broken down to execute tasks such as aiding the protein absorption, repairing muscle cells, boosting the synthesis of DNA, and preventing the loss of function within the bones and the eyes. While there are 20 forms of amino acids available, our body can only produce nine of them intrinsically. These nine amino acids are absolutely essential for the protein absorption and can only be obtained from a balanced nutritional intake.

Protein absorption in particular can be a tricky thing since the amount of protein that we get in our body through various sources does not always end up being fully utilised and consumed. This is because our body has a limit on the protein absorption and there is only so much of it you can consume in a single go without losing out on the availability of protein. 

The maximum rate of absorption for sources such as whey protein supplements would be about ten gras an hour. The main takeaway here is that you will need to spread out your intake of protein foods and supplements throughout the day in a balanced way in order to optimise the utilisation of absorption. 

Let us understand more about protein absorption and how our body should be benefiting from it. 

Recommended Dosage And Protein Absorption

The general rule of thumb for the protein absorption is to consume about one gram of protein per one kilo of body weight. This amount varies from individual to individual depending on their health and body composition, in addition to their occupation. The protein absorption in such cases can be maximised using supplements such as whey protein. 

Coming to the point of the maximum possible absorption in a single go, our body needs to be consuming about 0.5 grams of protein per meal, divided into four even parts throughout the day. Doing this will speed up the process by which proteins are synthesised from the amino acids present in your food, while also making sure that you are getting in about 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, which definitely exceeds the minimum recommended amount for the digestion and protein absorption. 

Protein absorption in small intestine usually happens when they are broken down into other compounds such as dipeptides, tripeptides, or amino acids. This process mainly occurs in the duodenum or the proximal jejunum, with the help of facilitated diffusion and the active transportation of nutrients within the cells. 

Exceeding Protein Absorption

There is a certain limit to the digestion and protein absorption by your body in a single go. The synthesis of muscle protein does experience capping off at 20 grams of protein, setting the healthy maximum limit for the digestion and protein absorption at around 30 grams. Going beyond this number is futile since the protein consumed after this point is simply not utilised and ends up being expelled via urine or transported to a different part of the body.

A good way to calculate protein digestion and absorption would be to split up your diet into categories of macronutrients such as carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins. After doing that, assign a specific number of calories towards the consumption of calories, while diverting the rest to fats and carbs in a sensible manner. The ideal way to fulfil your protein digestion and absorption would be to assign about a quarter of your caloric intake towards protein. 

How Can We Maximise Protein?

One of the fastest ways to maximise protein digestion and absorption would be to spread out your consumption of protein throughout the day instead of trying to get it all in at once. This also helps in the slow release of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals which can keep you fuelled throughout the day without having the urge to consume unhealthy junk. 

One of the foods with the fastest absorption rate would be nutritional supplements such as protein powders. Since they are mixed with mediums such as milk or water, they are dissolved into the bloodstream faster and act at a higher rate. The absorption rate of whey protein hydrolysates is the fastest form of whey protein absorption since this supplement is broken down into smaller compounds which makes it easier for your body to digest. The protein absorption rate also depends on the form of the food that you consume, i.e liquids are processed and consumed at a faster rate than solids are. 

Which Protein Powder Has Maximum Absorption Of Protein?

Our body is able to quickly absorb protein powder and then utilise it later for functions such as boosting the synthesis of muscle protein, making it a form of a fast-absorbing protein. 

Our bodies absorb protein powder supplements such as whey protein at a much higher rate than most of the other protein compounds available in the market, clocking in at a minimum of ten grams of protein per hour. Taking this into consideration, your body would require only two hours for 20 grams to be consumed and then absorb nutrition whey protein, making it one of the quickest ways to incorporate protein before indulging in a workout.  

While the protein absorption rate chart does put whey protein in the higher end of protein supplements, there is a possible downside to it. Whey protein is primarily extracted during the manufacturing of cheese from milk. The solids are extracted from the milk, leaving behind a milky white substance which is later processed to become protein powder. Since it contains trace amounts of lactose at the bare minimum, protein supplements such as whey powder are not suitable for those who follow a specific diet such as veganism or those diagnosed with lactose intolerance.

This brings us to the other forms of protein supplementation for people with special needs, such as soy protein, hemp protein, brown rice protein, nuts, and legumes. Out of these sources, pea protein ranks the highest on the protein absorption rate chart.

Conclusion

While protein absorption is absolutely necessary for the body and is required for several reasons, you also need to keep a check on how much protein you are putting into your body. Exceeding the recommended amount of protein can put you at risk of experiencing symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea, bloatedness, indigestion, etc. It is also important that you make sure to get a majority of protein from natural whole foods instead of artificial supplements to avoid unwanted complications.

Read these next