Hydrolyzed Protein – Analysis & Comparison

What is hydrolysis?

“It is the process of enzymatic breakdown of protein, normally conducted in the GI tract (stomach and small intestine). Enzymatic hydrolysis can also be performed outside the human body, and this is how whey protein hydrolysates are processed. Food-grade enzymes are introduced to whey protein concentrate or isolate thus reducing the size of the protein molecules, called peptides.

Is hydrolysis necessary?

Yes. It is critical to absorption. All dietary protein must be reduced (hydrolyzed) to the smallest peptides called di and tripeptides, or free form aminos in order to be absorbed by the body (muscles, organs, etc). If you consume protein that is not hydrolyzed, like isolates, concentrates, blends, caseins, soy and caseinates, it must be hydrolyzed in your GI tract (stomach and small intestine). Whatever protein is not hydrolyzed down to di and tripeptides or free form aminos may not be transported into the blood for distribution to your muscles and other tissues. It will travel on into the colon where it is not absorbed and becomes food for bacteria.” (source)

100 % Hydrolyzed Proteins with stated Degree of Hydrolysis (DofH)/Peptide %

1. IntrAbolic by Athletic Edge Nutrition(AEN) [DofH >30%; 70-80% di- and tripeptides]

2. HP-100 by Advanced Sport Nutrition(ASN) [DofH =16.9%]

3. PeptoPro by Protein Factory [DofH=28-30%;  >80% di- and tripeptides] (acid? and enzyme hydrolyzed)

4. Proto Whey by BioNutritional [DofH=?; ~40% di- and tripeptides]

5. VP2 by AST [DofH = 4%]

6. SizeOn (Maximum Performance and Pre-Contest) by Gaspari [DofH=?; >50% di- and tripeptides]

100% Hydrolyzed Proteins with Unknown Degree of Hydrolysis/Peptide %

1. ISO-100 by Dymatize

2. Platinum Hydrowhey by Optimum Nutrition (ON)

3. Myozene by BioQuest

Possible reasons why some comapnies do not relase DofH or peptide %

1. The DofH and % is so low it could potentially hurt sales. These companies may be selling an inferior product and hoping their brand name will carry them through.

2. Usually the companies claim that it is proprietary competitive information…while this may be true, its odd then that most other companies provide the DofH/% peptide.

Percentage and Degree of Hydrolysis Explained:

This is the best explanation I have found so far on the subject (via ASN):

“Hydrolysis is the breakdown of a chemical linkage between units of complex molecules to yeild smaller molecules. This involves enzymes called Hydrolases with the addition of water, which catalizes the reaction of the breakdown of the complex molecule. The hydrolases used in the breakdown of protein are called proteases. In the production of making peptide isolated protein the proteases used in the manufacture are identical with the same enzymes we produce in our digestive system to breakdown protein. The difference is the manufactured method is all controlled where as in our digestive system it is not. This is where the terms, Degree of Hydrolysis- ( DH ) and Percentage of Hydrolysis- ( % Hydrolyzed ) come from as this is the measurement of the methods used in the contolled process of manufacturing protein.

Percentage of Hydrolysis simply means the percentage of the protein which has been acted upon by the enzymes in the hydolysis process. If a protein is 50% hydrolyzed it means that the enzymes were able to act upon half of the protein before the process was stopped. 100% Hydrolyzed means that the enzymes have been able to act on all of the protein during the hydrolysis process. Any percentage of hydrolysis below 100 is termed Partially Hydrolyzed. Marketing wise you can use this figure to promote the amount of hydrolyzed protein in the container. 100% Hydrolyzed would then mean that the container only contains hydrolyzed protein and nothing else. Any other value would mean that other ingredients have been added into the protein, i.e.other protein or extra amino acids. The higher the percentage, the more peptides the protein will contain, but the size and bio-activity of those peptides is determined by the Degree of Hydrolysis. The higher the peptides, the more efficient the protein will be absorbed into your body.

Degree of Hydrolysis ( DH ) is the measure of the breakdown of the protein by the enzymes. A protein that has a DH of 100 has been broken down fully into individual amino acids. The Degree of Hydrolysis can be used to determine the performance and quality of the protein. Have the Degree of Hydrolysis too high and the ‘bioactive’ peptides, ( growth and immune factors ) are destroyed. Have the Degree of Hydrolysis to low and the bioactive peptides will not be isolated within the protein, with the growth and immune factors still being trapped within a larger peptide molecule. It has been found that a DH above 15%, but no higher than 25%, is an ideal level to aquire the seperation of growth and immune factors within the protein. Any hydrolysis level below 10% will yeild a protein with separated larger peptides for quicker absorption than a protein isolate but it does not contain any isolated growth or immune factors. It is the amount of growth and immune factors within the protein that will determine the performance and results you get from that protein. [Your body will break peptides to 2 and 3 amino acid chain lengths regardless, under normal circumstances your body can’t absorb anything bigger, thus all this talk about growth and immune factors is BS.]

A lot of people judge a protein by the amount of amino acids it has per serving. This is true in regards to comparing the amount of protein in the product against another, but it is not related to the performance of the product or the amount of ‘bioactive’ peptides in the protein. It’s the ‘bioactive’ peptides in the protein that have the specific functions within our body and determine the performance of the protein and not the amount of individual amino acids. The amino acids are just the building blocks that make up the peptides. Within the protein there are millions of combinations for the peptides, ones that the body uses and ones that the body doesn’t use. Having the protein go through advanced technology processing using state of the art hydrolysis techniques at the idea level, like HP-100, will ensure you will get isolated bioactive peptides for maximum results and performance. Therefore it is the amount and type of isolated peptides which governs the best protein and not the quantity of protein or the amino acid profile.”

Why should you care about di- and tri-peptides? Let’s have a look:

“I’d like to note two things here:

1) Di- and tri-peptides have up to 3x greater absorption than either free-form amino acids or longer chain proteins.

2) Free-form (i.e., single, like your favorite BCAA or arginine product) have the worst absorption of the group.

Amino acids can exist as single amino acids (e.g., l-glutamine), di- and tri-peptides (two or three amino acids bonded together), or longer chains of polypeptides (like your typical whey protein). The di- and tri-peptides in PeptoPro are completely water soluble, and therein lies the competitive advantage:” (source)

Manufacturing Process

Another area of concern is how the protein is hydrolyzed. This can be done in 3 ways:

  1. Acid Hydrolyzed
  2. Heat Hydrolyzed
  3. Enzyme Hydrolyzed

Both Acid and Heat hydrolyzation can denature the protein molecules thereby leading to an inferior product. Ideally the protein is hydrolyzed enzymatically.

Benefits of Hyrolyzed Protein over other proteins in short:

  1. Fastest absorbing form of the Whey Family (because its pre-digested)
  2. Delivers full amino acid profile in ~80 minutes
  3. Least allergenic form of whey protein
  4. Contains virtually no fat, lactose, and cholesterol
  5. Absorbed faster than free-form amino-acids
  6. Causes no bloating or gas (good for people with digestion issues or IBS or low stomach acid)
  7. Drinking hydrolyzed protein dosen’t leave you feeling full after

More on Benefits check out:

– Posts 56,58,59 here

– Protein hyrolysates in sports nutrition paper, good discussion of it here

– Good Debate on the merits of hydrolyzed protein here

Possible impact of Blood Type genetic factors:

Consider the following:

“There are four blood type groups: O, A, B, and AB. The majority of people are Blood Type O. Next comes Blood Type A, then Blood Type B; and, Blood Type AB is very rare and has only been around for about 1000 years. Less than 5% of the world’s population have Blood Type AB.

Blood Type O is the oldest blood type in the world (evolved around 40,000 BC), and is traced back to CroMagnon man. People with Blood Type O have the hardiest digestive systems. They are the meat-eaters. People with Blood Type A evolved from the hunter/meat-eater to the agrarian, and were the farmers and grain gatherers. Blood type A evolved between 25,000 and 15,000 bC. They have fragile digestive systems. Blood type B developed between 15,000 and 10,000 BC. Persons with Blood Type B have tolerant digestive systems, and can tolerate most foods equally well, with some exceptions.” (source)

There exists some generalized circumstantial evidence via Dr. D’Adamo and the blood type diet that people with Blood Type O have the most stomach acid and therefore are better adapted to consuming protein and therefore have an easier time digesting protein. People with Blood Type A on the other hand generally have the lowest stomach acid levels and generally have a more difficult time digesting protein.  People of blood type B and AB fall somewhere in the middle. This could have an effect on the some of the perceived benefits of consuming  hydrolyzed protein. It would stand to reason that people of Blood type A may benefit more from hydrolyzed protein than those that are blood type O. Through an informal survey of friends I found that most that were blood type O had stomach’s akin to a bottomless pit and could devour almost anything with no issue. Blood type A’s generally had more issues, but there always a few exceptions just as with anything else in life.

What I am trying to Figure out:

What is the most superior and best quality hydrolyzed protein on the market? (Ignoring taste and value) Right Now I am leaning towards the ASN HP-100, with PeptoPro a close 2nd. Ideally I want something that does not have added sucralose, color, Artifical Flavours, Acesulfame Potassium and other potentially harmful and nutrient deficient chemicals.

Update (2/4/2011)

The ASN HP-100 has artificial flavoring and sucralose which makes it less of an ideal choice. In addition some of the marketing claims behind it seem to be BS. It’s an Australian product, yet the protein inside comes form the USA!? Go figure.

In the end I settled on PeptoPro ordering it from http://www.trueprotein.com/. It seems to be by far the most superior hydrolyzed protein on the market. The stuff tastes incredibly bad, and I suggest starting with a small quantity and mixing it with an acidic drink like pineapple juice initially in order to acquire a taste for it. The first 2 days I thought I was gonna vomit drinking it, but now I seem to be fine and mix it with grape juice, as a post and intra-workout drink.

Initially I was going to use hydrolyzed protein as my sole source of non-dietary protein however this does not seem to be a good idea. In order to get the benefit from a high protein diet you want amino acids releasing into the bloodstream over an extended period of time…ideally close to 24/7. This prevents your muscles from going into a catabolic state. Thus slower digesting proteins such as whey and micellar casein are better when a full stomach is not an issue as they release amino acids over a longer period of time keeping your muscles in a net anabolic state.