Are All Proteins Created Equal?
Are All Proteins Created Equal?

Are All Proteins Created Equal?

What are Proteins?
Proteins are the building blocks of our cells. However, there are smaller building blocks that create proteins themselves. Proteins contain individual pieces called amino acids (AA’s) that are combined in specific ways to form new cells in our body (muscle, hair, skin, etc.). All proteins are created from the same 20 amino acids, but protein sources, compared to one another, can contain varying amounts. This means that if our dietary protein source lacks certain amounts of AA’s, we do not effectively create new tissue. 

What is the amino acid score?

In the interest of evaluating the quality of protein in our diet, we can use the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS). This score accounts for the essential amino acid profile (does it have all the building blocks we need) and its absorption (does it get into our bloodstream.


Quality of Protein 

Whey Protein Isolate



Whey protein concentrate



Soy protein isolate



Pea Protein



Rice protein concentrate



*note: scores can exceed 100% if they contain high amounts of essential amino acids (i.e., leucine which promotes muscle protein synthesis.

Why does Gnarly use whey protein concentrate (WPC) instead of whey protein isolate (WPI)?
By using WPC, consumers often experience a better tasting product because of less processing, and therefore the presence of naturally occurring fats and carbohydrates. Taste is a major factor in the sustainability of consuming protein supplement and is prioritized in the Gnarly Whey.

Why do milk-based proteins score better than plant-based?
A major essential amino acid you may have heard of in previous blogs, leucine, is a key stimulator for muscle protein synthesis and something we should be aware of when choosing a protein source. In otherwards, more leucine = more building = better recovery & performance! There is a minimum amount of leucine needed to trigger this process (called the leucine threshold) and is ~2-3 g of leucine. The relative range of protein amount is necessary to reach this is 15-30 grams of high-quality protein. Being that Gnarly products score slightly below the 100% mark, it is recommended to take a dose of 25 grams per serving to achieve maximal benefit.  Gnarly Whey contains 25g of protein per serving!

Benefit of Digestive Enzymes for DIAAS
While Gnarly’s protein powders contain a good score using DIAAS, the addition of digestive enzymes can further support the rate in which these amino acids can be digested and transported through the blood to our cells. The Gnarly Vegan protein powder contains a base of pea protein, followed by the addition of chia seed and cranberry seed protein to promote a greater DIAAS score by adding more balance to the essential amino acid profile. 

How much protein should I consume daily?
Our daily needs for protein can range based on the type of activity:

  • Endurance: 1.5-1.8 g/kg/day
  • Resistance/Strength-based: 1.6-2.0 g/kg/day

***this should be spread throughout 4-5 meals and snacks (0.25g/kg per meal) to optimize protein uptake and utilization for muscle

How much protein should I consume around training?
Pre: include moderate amounts of lean protein foods in pre-event meal (2-4 hours prior)

During: for most activities, protein consumption during activity is not necessary. However, for exercise bouts >2.5 hours it may be beneficial to BCAAs, EAAs, or HMB (found in Fuel2O endurance fuel) to aid in energy production and decrease muscle protein breakdown. 

Post: a 3:1 ratio of carbs:protein or ~15-30 g of a high-quality protein. 

Take home messages:

  • Consuming a high-quality protein supplement post-exercise promotes recovery.
  • Meeting the leucine threshold (2-3g) ensures optimal muscle recovery.
  • Spread out protein intake throughout the day aiming for 0.25g/kg per meal

***stay tuned for my next blog post where I provide an example by putting these science-based recommendations into practice.


Ertl, P., Knaus, W., Sollitsh, W. (2016) An approach to including protein quality when assessing the net contribution of livestock to human food supply. Animal. 10: 11, pp 1883-1889.

FAO (2013) Dietary Protein Quality Evaluation in Human Nutrition. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 92. Link:

Guillin FM, Gaudichon C, Guérin-Deremaux L, Lefranc-Millot C, Airinei G, Khodorova N, Benamouzig R, Pomport PH, Martin J, Calvez J. Real ileal amino acid digestibility of pea protein compared to casein in healthy humans: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2022 Feb 9;115(2):353-363. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqab354. PMID: 34665230.

Mathai, John K., Yanhong Liu, and Hans H. Stein. “Values for digestible indispensable amino acid scores (DIAAS) for some dairy and plant proteins may better describe protein quality than values calculated using the concept for protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scores (PDCAAS).” British Journal of Nutrition 117.4 (2017): 490-499.

Philips, S.M. (2017) Current Concepts and Unresolved Questions in Dietary Protein Requirements and Supplements in Adults. Front Nutr. 4: 13, pp 404-409

Rutherfurd SM, Moughan PJ. Available versus digestible dietary amino acids. Br J Nutr. 2012;108 Suppl 2:S298–305.


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