Six facts about proteins that will help you quickly optimize your diet in 2023

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Your protein guide for 2023

Proteins, often also called “proteins”, have been an increasingly popular topic for several years now. It seems as if protein can suddenly be found on every store shelf and is contained in all foods: curds, yoghurts, pizzas, muesli, drinks, bread, even salad - to name just a few of the usual suspects. Suddenly, it feels like there is a protein-rich alternative to every product, with the words “protein”, “protein” or “fitness” written in bold letters.

We at Lykaia also offer our own protein porridge , the “Goatmeal” . We have also included functional protein or protein powder in our range: the A2 goat protein and the pasture whey . You can find out why we stand behind these products here, among other things.

Lykaia proteins

 

Movements that focus on optimal protein consumption are not only developing on social media: marketing campaigns and countless protein powder suppliers promise a variety of miracle effects with increased protein intake.

Even if you don't expect anything different from us as a "protein brand", we want to stay honest with you and the truth is that you don't need tons of protein to stay healthy or to perform optimally in everyday life or during sports provide. However, you still need basic care that ensures that your body functions properly and you stay healthy. What matters most is the quality rather than the quantity. We'll go into this in more detail later in this article.

Oh yes, and while we're at it: what about these amino acids that are so often mentioned in the same context?

What is true about the statements and myths about effects, consumption quantities and the large topic of protein in general? What or who can you believe?

In this multi-part blog series we will inform you about the most important facts about proteins for your health .

It's important to us that you know the truth about protein so that you can make better decisions for yourself and your well-being. So: put an end to the protein myths in 2023! Here is your everyday protein compass for every situation.

In this article we take a look at the basic knowledge about proteins. We clarify what proteins, proteins and amino acids are and how they work in your body. After reading this article, you will be able to classify the nutrient protein and know from which sources you can get the highest quality protein.

Contents of this post:

  1. What exactly is protein?
  2. What exactly are amino acids?
  3. What does protein do in our body?
  4. What side effects do proteins and amino acids have?
  5. Biological value of proteins – where do I get the highest quality protein?
  6. What is the best way to consume protein?
  7. Conclusion on proteins

1. What exactly is protein?

Proteins perform a multitude of important tasks throughout the body that cannot be accomplished without external supply via food or dietary supplements.

Protein-rich foods

This makes protein a so-called essential macronutrient . In addition to proteins, the essential macronutrients include minerals, vitamins, water and certain fatty acids.

When it comes to nutrients, essential means that the body cannot produce them itself. Non-essential nutrients also exist. You know a very well-known one. For example, we humans are not dependent on any external supply of carbohydrates through our daily diet.

You read that right – the carbohydrates that have been discredited by low-carb diets are actually not essential!

Because: Did you know that proteins serve as building blocks for carbohydrates in our body? The process in which carbohydrates are obtained from proteins is called gluconeogenesis. This process occurs when, for example, we choose a low-carbohydrate diet (low-carb / Atkins diet, Paleo) or fundamentally reduce our carbohydrate consumption significantly. After a certain amount of time, your body realizes that it is no longer getting carbohydrates from food. In this case, the proteins step in as a building material.

But that doesn't mean that we recommend cutting out carbohydrates completely. They also have their place and, as with everything, it's all about quality and correct preparation. The right carbohydrates can provide a very efficient form of energy supply and can be quickly available to the body, while gluconeogenesis from proteins is rather laborious. Carbohydrates remain a good choice, especially when we need quick energy. Excellent and well-tolerated carbohydrate sources include white rice, sweet potatoes, starchy roots and vegetables.

But back to the proteins . Or much more about the amino acids .

A term that you hear very often in connection with proteins is that of amino acids. To put it simply, proteins are made up of chains of different amino acids. You could almost say that when we talk about amino acids and proteins or proteins, we use them synonymously.

2. What exactly are amino acids?

Amino acids are structural units of proteins. This means that proteins can be defined by the chaining and arrangement of different amino acids. All proteins that are important to life forms are formed from a combination of 21 amino acids .

Amino acids are divided into essential and non-essential amino acids . There is also a special case: the semi-essential amino acids .

Table of 21 amino acids:

Essential / Indispensable

Non-essential/dispensable

Leucine

Alanine

Isoleucine

Arginine

Lysine

Asparagine

Phenylalanine

Aspartic acid

Tryptophan

Glutamine

Threonine

Glutamic acid

Metheonine

Glycine

Valine

Proline

 

Selenocysteine

Serine

Cysteine

histidine

Tyrosine

 

The indispensable, i.e. “essential” amino acids are important for our organism’s survival. We have to get what is essential regularly and daily through food. The rest - the dispensable, i.e. "non-essential" amino acids - can usually be synthesized (produced) by the body itself. “As a rule” means that we should consume sufficient amounts of the essential amino acids daily and regularly .

 

What does “sufficient daily amount of amino acids or protein” mean for me?

The question is not as easy to answer in general as you might think.

The DGE (German Society for Nutrition) recommends an adult intake of 0.8g protein per kg body weight. This is initially a guideline that you can work with. Try it and calculate it. How much protein do you need per day? How much protein do the foods you regularly eat contain? Do you at least reach this guideline every day ? A simple calorie counter app can help you with this.

Since the topic of the right amount of protein per day is more complex and depends on the individual, you will soon find a link to an extra article from us that explains the topic completely.

There we will go into your individual protein consumption, which you can then easily calculate to be on the safe side.

 

It is also the case that in certain situations some of the dispensable amino acids become essential or semi-essential . For example, a person in infancy cannot produce all of their own amino acids. During this time, arginine, cysteine ​​and histidine, for example, are considered essential.

For chronic illnesses, glutamine can become an essential amino acid for some people.

Another interesting example shows the additional importance of semi-essential amino acids.

The body can only produce a certain amount of essential amino acids per day. An additional, external supply of non-essential amino acids can have a positive effect, as a “maximum amount” from which your body can benefit has not yet been reached.

You can find out more about this in our article about the amino acid glycine . We have also used these in our Lykaia forest cocoa for the reasons you will find there . The sleep-promoting effect was our main focus here, along with other benefits.

In addition, individual dispensable amino acids can support athletic performance. Various scientific studies repeatedly and clearly show that alanine or arginine can increase performance through targeted high doses before a training session.

We remember: Proteins are essential and we rely on a daily supply through food or protein powder, protein shakes or other dietary supplements. The most important thing for us are the essential amino acids.

 

3. What does protein do in our body?

Protein performs many important and diverse tasks, including:

  • Ensuring the effectiveness of the immune system

Proteins act as antibodies. They ward off infections and thus protect your health and keep your immune system stable.

  • Support in building muscle

Your muscles are largely made up of the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. In order to increase your muscle mass, an intake is essential.

  • Protection of built muscle mass

Your body has a love-hate relationship with muscles. While muscles form your active musculoskeletal system and ensure that you can cope with your everyday life well, muscles are energy-consuming body tissue. For comparison: 1KG of body fat burns 3 calories per day, while 1KG of body muscle burns 15 calories per day. All in all, this quickly adds up for someone who exercises 1-2 times a week or even more often.

That's why the body only tries to "keep" muscles when it really needs them. Because our body is energy efficient – ​​even without an energy saving bonus. To protect your muscles from breakdown, you should at least ensure your protein content every day, as the body does not have its own full protein stores.

There are only “temporarily stored” amino acids in the spleen, liver and kidneys, which are not comparable to our sometimes abundant carbohydrate or fat stores, which we can use for several hours or even weeks. If you stop consuming protein, it goes to the “quasi protein stores”, namely the hard-earned muscles themselves.

  • Increased performance by supporting muscle building

    Because muscles are better built up and protected, i.e. preserved, you have greater performance in sports and in everyday life. With less effort, you can better manage daily routines such as shopping, housework, repair work or even moving your entire circle of friends and acquaintances. Proteins ensure that you can still climb the stairs even in old age without suffering from sore muscles!

    • Feeling full for a long time

    Proteins are difficult for the body to digest. That is a good thing. By specifically adding protein in the form of powders or a selection of protein-containing foods, you can go for longer periods without cravings or with a reduced feeling of hunger. A well-known example here is quark. This is often chosen by bodybuilders because it is not only rich in protein, but also contains a special form, namely casein protein . Casein is broken down more slowly in the body.

    • Structure of body tissue

    Collagen is one of the proteins that can be found almost everywhere in the body.

      It forms many tissue structures of our passive and active musculoskeletal system, which makes it essential for every movement in everyday life. It is found in connective tissue, ligaments and tendons. Keratin, on the other hand, forms the basis for your fingernails, toenails and hair. So if you want to ensure good regeneration of your body cells in the long term, your protein consumption must meet a minimum. Furthermore, protein is generally found at the cellular level and is also part of the cell membrane that surrounds each cell.

      • Other benefits of how proteins work in our body:
        • Reduction of visceral fat (fat loss)
        • Support bone health
        • Building material for enzymes and hormones
        • Energy supplier through gluconeogenesis

       

      You see: protein is really essential. You can no longer take full advantage of all of these benefits if you don't consume enough protein. The most sought-after properties of proteins are their influence on body shape. So losing fat, building muscle and maintaining a youthful appearance. Or to put it another way: high protein consumption keeps skin, mobility and strength young. A protein fountain of youth, so to speak. For this reason, protein shakes are particularly popular with athletes. Not just for bodybuilders.

       

      4. What side effects do proteins and amino acids have?

      Unfortunately we have to disappoint you. There are no side effects. The fact is that long-standing myths about the macronutrient protein have now been debunked. In summary, the most well-known myth can be said:

      If you have no known kidney disease, increased protein consumption will not have a harmful effect on your kidneys.

      Yes, based on the current state of study and knowledge, that can be stated with a high degree of certainty. We repeat: protein cannot fundamentally harm your kidneys, provided they are healthy. That doesn't mean you should randomly grab protein powder or eat kilos of turkey breast or tuna.

      In principle, studies classify amounts of up to 3 grams per KG body weight daily (80KG person = 240g protein per day) as safe. This also applies to income over several months. But let's be honest, getting 240 grams of protein a day is a challenge.

      Nevertheless, your kidneys have to work harder because protein produces urea. So if you increase your protein consumption, you definitely have to make sure to adjust your water consumption as well. Drink enough and a little more than usual. This will mean that you will have to go to the toilet more often every day, but that is not a problem in itself. As a rule of thumb in nutritionist practice, it is said that 5 trips to the toilet a day is a good average for urination.

      This “side effect” could also be understood as a positive effect. Many people don't drink enough water. A daily intake of 1.5-3 liters of water is a good guideline . For an optimal level of performance , it is generally recommended to consume one liter of water for every 20 kg of body weight . This can also be water from food. As you know, fruits and vegetables in particular contain a lot of water. For example, if you weigh 90kg you shouldn't necessarily have to drink 4.5 liters, but would get part of it from your (balanced and healthy) food. The increased protein consumption can motivate you to do something else good for your body. Namely, to control your water balance and drink enough.

      At this point: Are you paying attention to your water consumption? Can you tell from your gut feeling how much you drink a day? How much of it is water?

       

      Protein and gout

      It can become problematic if you dose protein above 3g per body weight over a very long period of time (many months). This can cause gout because too much urine is produced. You should avoid this area. However, you are less likely to accidentally end up in such spheres. So don't worry.

      Protein and calcium excretion

      Another myth is calcium excretion associated with increased protein consumption, which could have a negative impact on your bone density. Here too, science has come to the clear conclusion that increased protein consumption flushes an irrelevant amount of calcium from the body. In short: no negative effect on your bones could be identified.

      Protein and weight gain

      You will rarely gain weight through an increased protein intake. In general, weight gain occurs due to an excess of calories, regardless of the nutrient. Because protein makes you extremely full and 20% of your calories are used up for metabolism alone, it is extremely difficult to achieve a calorie surplus with an increased protein intake. Weight gain from increased protein intake alone almost never happens.

      Protein and stomach or intestinal problems

      In principle, you should not consume too large quantities of any nutrient at once. This is rarely effective and can be stressful for the digestive tract. A side effect can then be, for example, digestive problems. But this is the case with almost any food that you consume in too large quantities. However, achieving this amount with protein alone is difficult because of the aforementioned saturation. . If you don't know of any intolerances, you can treat yourself to protein without hesitation.

      If you have intolerances, it is worth taking a closer look at today's diverse protein market. For this reason, we developed A2 casein, for example . It is based on goat's milk instead of cow's milk, which is easier for the human gastrointestinal tract and leads to fewer stomach problems. If you take protein powder, make sure that it does not have any additives. It is often the artificial ingredients that are responsible for digestive complaints and problems.

      Proteins have a calorific value of 4.1 kcal per gram. This is the same value as carbohydrates. But: Proteins show the highest digestion loss . Your body can use almost all of its energy from 9.3 kcal per gram of fat. That's why you can gain weight quickly through high fat consumption. When it comes to carbohydrates, the balance looks a little worse. Here, around 7% of the energy gained is lost during digestion.

      The effect of digestive losses and food-induced thermogenesis is greatest for proteins . Depending on the study, one can speak of a safe average of around 20-25%. This means that if you consume 100g of protein per day, you can deduct 20-25% of this amount. Which means that instead of 410 calories, you may have effectively only consumed around 300 calories from protein.

      This makes counting calories fun again.

      It's hard to believe how many benefits protein brings, right?

       

      What is important to you: Do you have a healthy kidney? Hit! Fill yourself up with protein and nourish yourself with the numerous benefits. If you have any known kidney problems, seek advice from your doctor. A good doctor will find a way to meet your vital protein consumption. To keep your kidneys healthy, drink enough water - but you should do that anyway! Stay away from unrealistic amounts of protein to stay healthy and not spread bad air.

       

      5. Biological value of proteins – where do I get the highest quality protein from?

      What is your knowledge of the topic of biological value ?

      Not all protein is equal. Not every food source or combination of foods ensures sufficient protein supply. Our body is made up of different amino acids. This creates a so-called “amino acid profile”. It is important that the foods we eat have a similar or comparable amino acid profile. This becomes especially important if you calculate your protein consumption to the nearest gram using the kitchen scale.

      The typical chicken egg with a biological value of 100 is used as a guideline. This does not mean that we can process 100% of the protein from the chicken egg, but viewed as a single food source, it represents an optimal amino acid profile for us.

      Combinations of different foods can even increase this value. A composition of plant and animal protein sources can lead to a higher biological value than 100. For example, the combination of chicken egg and fried potatoes represents a value of 136.

      What we can learn from this is that a combination of plant and animal protein sources forms a good amino acid profile and works great as a building material for our body. So try to connect these sources throughout the day. This doesn't necessarily have to happen at the same meal.

      Another very good source of protein are protein powder made from whey (whey protein) or whey protein shakes (whey protein shakes). These alone achieve a biological value of 104. That's why we at Lykaia, for example, offer a pure whey protein , Weide Whey , which is completely free of additives. Experience has shown that fitness trainers ensure very good digestibility. Many athletes report to their trainers and nutritionists that they experience fewer “stomach and intestinal problems” when taking additive-free protein powders. That's why we chose pure, high-quality protein from grass-fed cows. It's easier to digest and you're guaranteed not to get any digestive problems or a bloated stomach.

      Premium whey pasture raised

      Overview of various foods and food combinations and their biological value:

      Food or food combination

      Biological value

      Whey protein isolate

      140

      Whole egg + potatoes

      136

      4-6 component protein mixture

      70-140

      Milk + wheat flour

      125

      Whole egg + soy

      124

      Whole egg + milk

      119

      Milk + potatoes

      114

      Whey protein concentrate

      104

      Whole egg

      100

      potatoes

      96

      Egg white

      88

      beef

      87

      Cowly

      85

      soy milk

      84

      rice

      82

      Casein

      80

      Soy protein powder

      74

      Beans

      73

      Corn

      72

      Wheat

      59

      Collagen protein

      20



      First of all: you can calm down again. No, it is not important to constantly achieve the optimal value of biological value. On the one hand, it depends on what variety of different protein sources you have consumed throughout the day and, on the other hand, if you mainly consume sources in the range well below 100, you will eat relatively more of them. You should just make sure not to exceed your total calorie balance, otherwise unwanted weight gain could be the price of covered protein consumption.

      What should you take away from this: There are many high-quality sources of protein. You can see a few in the table. Above all, the combination of plant and animal sources ensures that you can cover your protein needs quickly and in a calorie-efficient manner. Protein powders made from high-quality whey or casein have a very good biological value

      6. What is the best way to consume protein?

      In order to ensure the daily protein requirement, practical experience as a nutritionist shows:

      A combination of high-quality foods and protein powders in the form of protein shakes is often the simplest, most practical and also most cost-effective solution.

      An important basic rule here is Food First. Essential nutrients should always be obtained from “real” foods first before resorting to so-called supplements (nutritional supplements, or NEM for short).

      So should you generally avoid protein powder or protein shakes? No , because we do not live in theory and we are not artificial machines with a routine everyday life. This is exactly why protein shakes or protein powders are rightly so popular. Especially in this day and age.

      At first glance, the protein intake levels seem manageable, but let's check the following checklist :

      • Maybe you have an intolerance to certain nutrient sources?
      • Maybe you reduce your meat consumption or completely avoid animal products?
      • Maybe you exercise weekly and therefore have an increased need for protein?
      • Maybe your immune system is weakened and you need more amino acids?
      • Maybe you can't tolerate some protein-rich products or have problems with them?
      • Maybe you have a taste aversion to some protein-rich foods?
      • Maybe you have ideas about a certain body image and want to maintain your muscles or lose unwanted fat tissue?
      • Maybe you want to keep your toenails, toenails and hair optimal into old age?

       

      Protein health

       

      These are, among other things, reasons that can ensure that your daily individual protein requirements are not met. This means that your body cannot carry out the vital and regenerative processes for which proteins are responsible completely or at all, which in the long term leads to nutritional deficiencies, muscle breakdown, immune deficiencies and damage to health.

      Especially if you don't always have the opportunity to tailor your meals to your protein needs, protein powders are a practical and cost-effective solution. If you often eat out or with family, friends and relatives or are generally on the go a lot, meeting your protein needs quickly takes a back seat. As a result, you often fall short of your daily protein requirements.

      In such situations, it is worth drinking 1-2 supportive protein shakes every day. Furthermore, high-quality protein powders (e.g. whey or casein) can often be used as an additive for your own recipes. This means you can refine your own dishes as you wish without having much influence on the taste of the dish. We have also developed our own recipe book using our goat protein.

       

      Lykaia Ebook Recipes

       

      Conclusion on proteins, proteins and amino acids

      A daily and regulated protein intake is essential for you. Unless you have kidney problems, don't worry about eating too much protein. It is important that you consume it every day, ensure that you increase your protein intake, especially when exercising, and choose your protein sources carefully. Food First and protein shakes as a supplement and you are well on your way without having to worry too much!

      What are your experiences with the topic of protein? Do you find it easy to consume your daily amount of protein? Do you have any questions about proteins? Leave a comment, send us an email or contact us on social media with your experiences and questions and we will respond to you personally. We would be happy to include your questions in our protein blog post series.

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      Your Lykaia team