T Nation

Enzymes for Protein Absorption

On John Berardi’s website, he discusses enzymes to help with protein absorption. I included part of the article below. Does anyone use these, and if so, what specific digestive “enzymes” is he referring to?

The take-home:

First, it?s pretty clear that you probably aren?t absorbing all the protein in your whey if you?re drinking it plain and in viscous (liquid) form. From this study (and others), it seems that under normal conditions, liquids rush through the GI tract too quickly and that only a small amount of protein can be absorbed during normal transit time.

From this study it?s also evident that higher doses of whey protein are better absorbed if you take digestive enzymes at the same time. When you do this, you get higher amino acid levels in your blood, so that you have more available to your muscles and other tissues, which is pretty much the whole point of drinking whey ? to make amino acids available to your body.

Second, it got me thinking: what other things help us absorb whey protein? My questions:

If I sip my whey protein drink, or drink small amounts every 15 minutes or so, therefore spreading the whey drink out over an hour or two, is the absorption better?
If I find some way to slow down transit time, by making a Super Shake, by adding the protein to oatmeal, or by using a milk blend containing casein, would that slow transit time enough to make a difference in absorption?
My suspicions are yes - both would help increase absorption. Although not as much as seen with enzyme supplementation. So the best of both worlds, if you?re looking for increased absorption, would probably be to slow down transit time AND supplement with proteolytic enzymes.

Now, on a side not, I do have to mention that this study was sponsored by the company that makes whey protein powder with these enzymes. Of course, I?m not saying the study isn?t accurate. However, I always, always look at where the money comes from for studies. Why? Because to some degree, funding will influence the interpretation, design, or outcome of the research.

But back to the physiology. It appears that in the end, we should all be more concerned about how much of whatever we are eating is actually being absorbed. What you eat doesn?t necessarily mean what you absorb and have available to you.

In the case of whey protein supplementation, thanks to the science, the days of slamming a 50g protein shake are gone. If you don?t find ways to slow transit time and/or increase the rate of whey absorption, you?ll be spending your hard earned cash on boosting fecal and urinary nitrogen vs. increasing muscle protien.

It looks like hes just trying to bring across the point that you need to think about slowing and optimizing absorption of your food/protein drink.

Also, I would assume “supplement with proteolytic enzymes” would be his referrence. Do some research on these, but from what I found it says the enzymes in papaya and pineapple are the best sources. Maybe try to find papaya or pineapple extract/enzyme supplement and take it with the shakes.

Yep pineapple and papaya and I think guava is good. Fresh is best. Pills can be good though papaya pills are like concentrated papaya lollies.

We used to take Hydrochloric Acid capsules back in the 90’s for the purpose being defined above.
I think with hindsight though, pinnaple/juice would be a more health concious and economic way of doing this.
As bdadam01 said, probably finding the extract would be better for someone counting carbs/sugar.