In recent times, protein-rich diets are preferred and promoted. Why is it so? Well, it is because proteins do play a critical role in gaining muscle mass and also losing weight.
You might have often heard gym trainers or dieticians recommending people to consume protein supplements. There is a wide range of protein supplements that are now available in the market.
However, there have been complaints raised by consumers that the intake of these supplements leads to poor digestion. Why is it so? In this article, we will give you a detailed overview of the how to tackle this issue.
Why Does Protein Take Time To Digest?
Protein is an essential macronutrient. It is essential for growth, muscle development, and so much more. However, digesting protein can take a significant amount of time.
It is so because different macronutrients take different times to assimilate and absorb. Carbs can be easily digested, especially simple sugars. Hence, it is a reason why simple carbohydrates are not considered to be a good dietary source.
The thing about proteins is that they have amino acids. Therefore, the breakdown of amino acids takes a significant amount of time. The protein needs to reach the stomach for actual absorption and breakdown to start.
The enzyme protease acts on the linked amino acid chains, thereby releasing energy. However, there is still a good amount that is left that gets absorbed into the small intestine. In the small intestine, other pancreatic enzymes act on proteins.
The enzymes present here are proteases, which stimulate the breakdown of proteins into simpler parts. Pepsin is also crucial for the digestion and absorption of protein in the body.
Hence, it is safe to say that the entire process of assimilation, absorption, and digestion might take several hours.
How To Digest Protein Supplements Easily?
If you feel that you are bloated and your digestion is not in tune due to the intake of protein supplements, then here we have listed some ways through which you can digest protein easily.
The presence of an acidic environment is integral for protein breakdown to take place. How to achieve that? You need to include acidic foods in your diet. So, this will help to maintain the acidic pH of the gut.
Eating acidic foods will help in balancing the pH, which will help with the digestion of protein. Some of the acidic foods include citrus fruits, vinegar, blueberries, pineapple, apples, grapes, sauerkraut, etc.
It will speed up protein digestion by helping with the release of enzymes like proteases and hydrochloric acid.
Complex Carbohydrates –
A very common misconception among a lot of people is that carbohydrates should be avoided and be taken in scarce quantities. However, this is completely untrue.
Complex carbohydrates are very crucial for our body’s functionality. It is so because carbohydrates are important for the release of insulin. Insulin, on the other hand, promotes glycogenesis and protein synthesis.
Therefore, it is important for the proper absorption of amino acids into your muscles. Hence, it is suggested to have certain carbs early in the morning or before you work out. It improves digestion and absorption too.
However, make sure that you take in complex carbohydrates and avoid simple carbohydrates. The food options that are rich in complex carbohydrates include starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, whole grains, buckwheat, quinoa, nuts, etc.
Vitamin B6 –
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine plays a major role in the release of various enzymes in the body. These enzymes are essential because they help in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Vitamin B6 helps with amino acid synthesis and absorption. Therefore, consuming food rich in pyridoxine can prove helpful in the digestion of protein.
If you have a habit of drinking too much water while you eat, then it is time you stop doing so. The reason behind this is that consumption of too much water and other fluids can lead to the dilution of digestive enzymes.
The dilution of digestive enzymes will then leads to improper digestion and bloating. It can also interfere with the acidity that is necessary for digestion. So, make sure that you only sip on one glass of water while eating.
Protein supplements are not a magic potent that will miraculously help in gaining muscle mass. It is imperative to work out at least three to five days a week. Then only will you see some results?
It is always suitable to consume protein either before or after your workout session. Doing so not only helps in better digestion and absorption but also helps in the repair of tissues.
Add Other Food Items To Your Protein Shake-
It is always better to add certain other food items when you are taking your protein shake. Try to jazz up your protein shake by adding fruits like blueberries, bananas, and peaches. You can also add curd, peanut butter, and nuts.
All this will enhance the nutritional quality as well as stimulate better absorption and digestion. However, do not overload it. Make sure that you are staying within your calorie requirements.
If you have always had trouble with digestion, then you can look for protein supplements that contain added enzymes. Enzymes play a pivotal role in the digestion process.
It can prove helpful in protein digestion because of enzyme protease, which helps in the breakdown of peptide bonds. Moreover, certain foods are rich in enzymes. These include papaya, honey, pineapple, bananas, avocados, and so much more.
So, including enzymes in your diet can stimulate better digestion.
It is essential to consume protein supplements in a limited quantity. However, do not go overboard with it. Consumption of anything beyond a certain level can have negative affects, and the same goes with protein supplements too.
There is no need to take more than one or two scoops of protein supplement a day. A single scoop provides 20 grams of protein and most people have a dietary requirement of 50-60 grams a day. Therefore, make sure you take protein according to your age and weight.
Intolerance To Certain Ingredients-
The most common and best protein supplement is Whey Protein. However, some people suffer from severe lactose intolerance. It can cause inflammation in your digestive system.
Therefore, it is important to understand and analyze the ingredients present in your protein supplement. One can be intolerant of soy, egg whey or corn protein. It is therefore important for you to establish what suits you the best.
If you find out that a particular type of supplement is troubling you with digestion, then avoid it.
Slow Digesting Supplements Vs Fast Digesting Supplements
There has been a lot of debate about what might be a better protein supplement. When we talk about digestion, it would be good to have a detailed look into slow-digesting proteins and fast-digesting proteins.
Fast Digesting Supplements
What is a fast-digesting protein? A fast-digesting protein is a protein that gets absorbed by your body in a shorter period. The rapid absorption of protein is instrumental if you wish to build muscle mass and ensure your lean muscles are not lost.
Whey protein is therefore favoured by a lot of people because it is a fast-absorbing protein. It gets absorbed at a rate of ten grams per hour. Therefore, the entire process of digesting whey protein will take just a couple of hours.
However, let me put it out there that Whey Protein Isolate might be better than Whey protein concentrate. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, then maybe you can go for pea protein. Pea protein also has a rapid absorption rate.
Slow Digesting Supplements
It is not hard to guess what a slow-digesting protein is now that you know what fast-digesting proteins are. Slow digesting proteins are proteins that do not have rapid absorption. Therefore, it might take even longer to digest.
Casein is an example of a slow-digesting protein. It takes almost four hours to digest protein. However, it is not all that bad. It might not be easy to digest, but this is what provides you with energy gradually.
It is mostly consumed by bodybuilders, who wish to pack on muscles over a long period. Slow digesting proteins can also be a good choice for those who want to feel fuller for a longer duration.
Casein protein can be hard to digest. Digestive enzymes take a longer time to assimilate and absorb into your body. So, if you suffer from indigestion, it might not be a good option for you.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to personal preferences. Therefore, you are the one who knows the best about what is good for you.
Is it good to take protein supplements?
Yes, it can be a good addition to your daily nutrient consumption. Protein supplements are a good way of ensuring that you can meet your daily protein requirements.
According to a study, one billion people worldwide suffer from protein deficiency. Therefore, consuming it can save you from a lot of health risks and promote good health.
How much protein should you consume daily?
It is important to take a controlled amount of protein. According to various studies, it was reported that for each kilogram, one should take 0.8 grams of protein.
However, if you are trying to build your muscles or a bodybuilder, then your requirements could be different. So, in such a case, it is always better to ask your trainer.
How do I know which type of protein supplement is best suited for me?
There are a variety of protein supplements that have been formulated to meet varied needs. The most common is whey protein. It has been an unparalleled king for a long time. However, there are plant-based options like soy protein, rice protein, hemp protein, etc. There is also egg protein.
So, you can choose if you want a dairy-based protein or a plant-based protein. There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a supplement. It is always necessary to check the ingredients to avoid allergic reactions.
I hope now you are aware of the various factors that contribute to the digestion of protein. It is imperative to follow the prescribed dosage and be watchful of the warnings. If you suffer from digestion problems, then it will also affect your performance and strength.
Protein digestion takes a lot of energy and helps in driving crucial processes. Therefore, naturally, it is a tedious process. When choosing a protein supplement, weigh all the pros and cons.
It is also highly advisable if you consume supplements on the recommendation of a health or fitness professional. It is so because there will be a lower risk of complexities in the future.