baldy wrote:Are whey based proteins that good to begin with?
In terms of ethics or consumption by vegans, obviously NO
In terms of digestion process (breaking down the proteins to absorb them) and likely metabolic side effects / health, probably NO
In terms of amino acid profile, probably YES (and I think it can pay great dividends to understand a little bit about how, so as to work around this). This is often marketed by the whey industry and supporting trainers as "biological value" or "protein completeness", which to me is as much an over-simplification as it is conveniently favorable to their product, but their is still an issue worth thinking about.
The other poster may have been talking about adding lab formulated free amino acids to proteins (or some marketing spin on that concept), which I believe several brands (for example, PlantFusion) already do and advertise, and which you can also do yourself by buying them separately, if you take slightly longer initially to work out what you're trying to do. I think this is a good idea, but not so unique.Lysine
is about 8% of cows' milk, 6-7% of most (all?) legume proteins, 6% of human milk protein and wheat germ protein, 3-5% of expensive alternative grain proteins (buckwheat, quinoa), 3-6% of protein in most seeds and nuts, 4% of oat and rice proteins, and about 3% or less in almonds, whole wheat, other grains and most vegetables (which are often quite rich in protein per kilojoule, just not in lysine). It is the MOST limiting amino in MOST vegan foods/diets, and it is an essential amino acid (probably the most critical) for humans, and just about all other animals. It is important for immune health and is a part of up to 70% of the protein molecules in the human body, therefore important for things like hair, skin health/strength/elasticity/appearance, ligaments and muscles. Probably the optimum whole-of-diet proportion is about 6% of protein, or very likely more than 6% for athletes. Therefore 7-10% seems like an optimal amount for a vegan protein supplement.To effectively address this:
in practice a vegan protein supplement almost has to have some legume as its main source (most supplements do, but many high protein vegan processed foods and most vegan whole food or raw vegan diets do NOT), and/or
have lab formulated L-Lysine added (not commonly added but you can add it yourself, it's sports legal, available in most supplement stores, effective, affordable and is also used in animal feed to cut costs, as feedlots trying to get animals big quickly on a cheap, i.e. usually vegan diet, face the same issue here as human animals trying to support muscles on a vegan diet). IMHO many of the non-vegans who tried training as vegans and had protein problems, probably just had issues with their lysine intake.BCAAs (leucine and isoleucine)
are particularly important for muscle growth, probably occur slightly higher in whey protein than in most of the vegan ones, and are commonly added to both whey and vegan proteins or bought as separate supplements. Probably worth making sure you're getting these one way or another for most athletes but especially if you're doing serious strength training. For those just looking to compensate for a possibly low dietary protein intake, or support moderate activity, I doubt there is any issue or need here at all.Methionine
is higher in milk than in vegan foods, particularly than in legumes such as soy, peanuts, lentils, peas, chickpeas. This is partially compensated for by high Cysteine content in some vegan foods. Sesame seeds and most grains are good sources of methionine. For most vegans, it's therefore unlikely to be an issue. I think I saw a credible scientific article somewhere as to probable health benefits of partial methionine restriction, too, but I don't have a link to hand. I have seen DL-methionine-enhanced soy milk for sale in a Korean grocery store and this is not necessarily a bad idea, especially if you get most of your protein from one source. Personally, I'm not worried about Met intake at all, I don't even monitor it. Met and Carnitine are commonly used together as a fatty acid metabolism supplement (Carnitine is not in milk either, very small traces are in some legumes and it is in meat, but the supplement will generally be lab-formulated hence vegan!) If you're on a high protein low calorie fat loss diet or you deliberately consume a very high fat diet, there may be some benefit to this supplement. It's widely available (in my local mainstream supermarket, you don't even have to go to a vitamin/supplement shop).Serine
(2 non-essential amino acids) are from memory much higher in cow's milk than in most vegan foods, but I'm really not sure that in the balance this is any kind of advantage. Glutamine
I think from memory is actually lower in milk than in pea protein, and certainly compared to gluten-containing grains like oats, however lab formulated free L-glutamine is a common supplement on its own or added into protein powders for athletes and body builders. It is a "conditionally essential" amino acid, i.e. people in serious recovery mode, e.g. 3rd degree burns, may NEED it to survive. It is very abundant in the human body, plays some muscle regrowth and immune functions. A glutamine supplement is probably a good idea for many athletes, and for most or all athletes on a gluten free diet (gluten intolerances are not usually to the glutamine itself but to the way it is bound in the grain).Taurine
are not part of protein, nor found in milk, but since we're on amino acids, both have fairly well proven credentials as sports supplements, and produced in a lab in a way that so happens to be vegan. Vegans (and most meat eaters) don't have good dietary sources of either. Many athletes and probably most body builders take creatine. I don't want to get big but I still find it helpful. Endurance athletes may benefit less or not at all. Taurine is an ingredient in many standard supermarket/convenience store energy drinks (but they are caffeinated, which could be good or bad, and are not particularly cost effective), and in many "pre workout stacks" (some of which are NOT sports legal, mostly due to containing DMAA or so-called "geranium extract"). Strangely, I haven't found a way to buy taurine by itself, but I would like to.