T Nation

Denatured Protein?

Hey everyone,

I was recently reading a thread that discussed how protein powder becomes denatured when cooked, making it virtually unusable by the body. I had always heard this, but someone made the point: “Does all protein in regular food become denatured (at least some) when cooked?” I tried to research it, but came up pretty short. Say, for instance that I measure out some chicken breast, and then cook it. How much of the protein becomes denatured during the cooking process? Any studies would be appreciated also.


I’m not sure on this, but I think the denaturing has something to do with the form of protein powder and how it’s not ‘real food’, I think as long as ‘real food’ isn’t cooked to hell virtually none of the protein should be denatured. Of course, I might just be talking out of my arse here, don’t know of any studies about it.

THE body can digest most of it, it isnt as tho denaturing stops all digestion. Its still amino acids, and thats the main thing. Denaturing will affect longer chains of aminos that provide a metabolic effect, like some of the molecules in whey protein.

Cycomiko is correct. All protein is denatured by heat. The extent of the denaturing is determined by the amount and length of cooking. The higher the heat and more well down the meat - the more denatured. However, with meat, this is a necessary evil to prevent illness (say e-coli). But as noted, Denaturing does not mean your body cann’t digest or absorb or use the denatured protein. It’s just that the studies I’ve heard about suggest that Un-denatured protein (natural proteins consist of different combinations of aminos joined in “strands”) is better utilized by the body than denatured (complete denatured means it is no longer protein but individual aminos - no longer the combinations connected in protein strands as noted above). So it’s suggested if you want to get the absoluted most out of your protein sources then eat them as un-denatured as possible. but I would cook my meat long enough to kill all bacteria with out over cooking. Think about it, the extreme of over cooking would be burnt and burnt protein is probably not very usable. Done but not over done.