How We Know How Much Of A Protein Source Is Used Vs How Much Is Converted To Energy (Calories)
The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.
“Amino acid decomposition results in hydrocarbons and nitrogenous waste. However, high concentrations of nitrogen are toxic, as they produce ammonium ions. The urea cycle processes nitrogen and facilitates its excretion from the body.”
This element of nitrogen as a component of an amino acid is key.
When an amino acid is deaminated, this nitrogen is released. This is measurable largely through urine, and to a lesser degree through fecal matter and sweat, and is what allows for the precise measurement of amino acid utilization within the human body.
When amino acids follow the anabolic pathway (protein synthesis) there is no release of nitrogen as it is still a constituent part of the amino acid which has now been utilized as part of a protein in the structure of the body.
But when amino acids are in excess, they follow the catabolic pathway (amino acid degradation or deamination), where they are broken down. This releases this nitrogen that was a component of the amino acid.
The weight of nitrogen in an amino acid is known and can be measured.
Very precisely, the molecular weight of an amino acid is 110Da, and nitrogen accounts for 16% of an amino acid.
Therefore, we can measure the total nitrogen of a protein source prior to consumption, and then measure the nitrogen output in the proceeding period, allowing us to see the exact amount of the protein consumed that was anabolized (synthesized into new proteins) vs how much was catabolized (broken down into its constituent parts).
If anabolized, the amino acid is now part of the protein structure of the body and has caused no energy output. And we will see no nitrogen released from it.
If catabolized, the amino acid has been deaminated with resultant energy output and release of its nitrogen constituent, which can now be removed via urine and, to a lesser degree, through sweat and fecal matter.
“For most common proteins, 50–80 g of glucose can be derived from 100 g of ingested protein.”
For example: If we take 10 grams of protein, and if nitrogen comprises 16% of each of the amino acids making up this protein, then we know there are 1.6 grams of nitrogen in 10 grams of protein.
If we then find that half of that 1.6 grams of nitrogen was released through urine, feces, and sweat (0.8 grams), then we know that only half of the amino acids in the 10 grams of protein were used to synthesize new protein, while the other half was deaminated and used as an energy source — calories.
So, from 10 grams of protein consumed, we get only 5 grams the body has actually used for building new protein. And we also now know that 5 grams were converted to energy — calories — and so from those 5 grams we get 20 calories, as each gram of protein has the potential energy of 4 calories.
That’s a simple example.
With the advent of PerfectAmino, and backed by multiple studies both singularly, and comparing PerfectAmino, whey, and whole hen eggs in triple-blind crossover studies, where the urine and feces of each participant was collected, and the nitrogen quantities measured, we now know the precise ratio of essential amino acids the body requires to synthesize new protein with near zero excess — .04 calories per serving of 5 grams of PerfectAmino.
Comparing this proprietary formula of PerfectAmino EAAs to the amino acid profiles of other protein sources, we are able to calculate the exact amount of amino acids each protein contains that will be used for protein synthesis vs. what will be deaminated and converted to energy — calories.
When we look at the amino acid profiles of whole hen eggs, we see that 48% of the essential amino acids exist in the correct ratio to be synthesized into new proteins in the human body, and 52% of the amino acids are in excess.
This means that nearly half of the protein in a whole egg is used to build new protein in the body, and just over half is converted to energy, giving whole eggs an effective caloric measurement of 2.08 per gram. This is the highest ratio found in foods in nature.
In whey, we see that EAAs in the correct ratio to synthesize new protein constitute 18% of the amino acid profile, resulting in 82% excess amino acids that must be deaminated. This gives an effective caloric measurement of 3.28 calories per gram of whey.
And in BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids), which are only three of the essential amino acids and so cannot be used on their own to synthesize new protein, we find they are fully excess amino acids and subject to deamination.
“An extensive search of the literature has revealed no studies in human subjects in which the response of muscle protein synthesis to orally-ingested BCAAs alone was quantified and only two studies in which the effect of intravenously infused BCAAs alone was assessed. Both of these intravenous infusion studies found that BCAAs decreased muscle protein synthesis as well as protein breakdown, meaning a decrease in muscle protein turnover. The catabolic state in which the rate of muscle protein breakdown exceeded the rate of muscle protein synthesis persisted during BCAA infusion.”