Posted 1 month ago

Incomplete protein and gainz

If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you already track your protein. But ask yourself this: are you getting enough of the right sources of protein?

We all know protein is essential to build muscle: if you’re consuming 1.1-1.2g protein per pound of body weight, then you’re on the right lines. But to maximise the amount of muscle you can add to your frame, you must consider whether you are consuming complete of incomplete protein sources.

Before we get into that, remember that the building blocks of protein are amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids, and 9 of these cannot be made in the body. As a result, we must acquire them from food. These are known as the ‘essential’ amino acids and are the ones that stimulate muscle growth and recovery.

That being said, a complete protein source is defined by the fact it contains all 9 of these essential amino acids, and can be found foods such as poultry, whey protein, meat, fish, eggs, dairy and soya-based foods. On the other hand incomplete proteins will not contain all of the essential amino acids for building muscle and these can be found in food sources such as breads and pastas.

It’s at this point you take out MyFitnessPal and see how much of either type of protein you are consuming. If you haven’t considered this to date, it’s something you should look at if you want to increase your body’s ability to recover from the work you’ve done in the gym, and add muscle mass.

Let me tell you my strategy with clients. I will often set a daily protein target for them to hit that solely comes from complete protein sources. I do not discourage eating foods that have incomplete sources in them, we just simply do not count these towards their daily protein target or their daily calorie target.

Even if it looks like you are above your target protein intake by 20-30g, do not worry, as any excess protein that is not used by the body is excreted via urine. This occurs because – even in excess – the conversion of protein to fat is a metabolically expensive process for the body; therefore, rather than storing excess protein as fat, our bodies will more readily get rid of it.

Therefore, even if some of our intake is being excreted, if we ensure that we get adequate protein from the right sources, we are putting ourselves in a position to maximise muscle growth. To maximise growth, I would also suggest you look at how frequently you are eating (and by eating, I specifically refer to protein feedings!).

Our bodies are in a constant battle of muscle protein breakdown vs muscle protein building. Of course, we want the building side to win and to do that, our bodies and muscles need constant reinforcement – or cheerleading, as such – in the form of amino acids. Thus, if you consume protein approximately every 3 hours, this will ensure your body is more favoured towards building muscle than breaking it down.

In summary, incomplete protein sources aren’t inherently bad. In fact, they’re most frequently found in foods that taste awesome. However, if we want to maximise muscle growth, it would make more sense to get as much of our protein intake from complete sources as we can.

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons