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?
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.