The Science

Proteins are  organic compounds made of amino acids arranged in a linear chain and joined together between the carboxyl atom of one amino acid and the amine nitrogen of another.

Proteins are built from a series of 20 amino acids, eight essential and 12 non essential. Actually, scientists  have now discovered 22 amino acids necessary for human life support. Non essential amino acids are those that our body can produce and essential amino acids are those that we must consume by eating a well balanced diet. Unlike protein and carbohydrates, amino acids are not stored in the body.

 Muscles, ligaments, organs, tendons, tissues, glands, nails and hair is made up of proteins. The repair, maintenance of cells and critical bio-chemical processes in the body are dependent on proteins.

An important element in the formation of protein is nitrogen. Nitrogen is abundant in our atmosphere and supports all living things. Cell replacement and tissue and muscle repair all require nitrogen for production of new cells. Although nitrogen is abundant in the environment, humans cannot directly use it from the air or soil, but instead depend on green plants to convert it so our bodies can use it. Our body is constantly recycling nitrogen from amino acids. ,

Now that you know some facts about protein, what's the scoop

The Myth

​​When shopping for protein supplementation, (usually powder form) the label usually says "A COMPLETE PROTEIN Source." The fact; it is a false statement.

As mentioned previously, one complete protein molecule must include all 20 amino acids,12 essential and 8 non-essential. Remember, the non essential ones are those that our body manufactures. Unfortunately, most protein supplements only have on average 8 to 10 of the 12 essential ones: It takes all 20 amino acids to form a single complete protein.

Consumers get confused when the packaging reads, "a complete source of protein,"when in fact it is only acomplete essential blend;  minus the non essentials.

The Truth

The majority of the population does not have an adequate diet, and protein intake is insufficient. The majority of youth and adult athletes also have very low intakes of protein because of food choices and inadequate daily servings.

As a running coach, I stress to all athletes, both young and old the importance of protein. I also stress the importance of eating a minimum of 7 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables. My preferred amount is 10 cups each of fruits and vegetables.
An athlete. especially a runner is burning calories 24 hours 7 days a week, even when sleeping. You need to replace those calories with a proper combination of carbohydrates and protein. (More on that subject later)

An athlete in training continually is tearing down muscle matter, and protein is used to heal, repair and aid in quick (muscle) recovery. More importantly, is the timing and type of protein intake after a hard training session. After a hard workout session the body is depleted of both carbohydrates and protein, and you need to get those nutrients replaced as soon as possible.

Research has proven that combining protein with carbohydrate within thirty minutes of post exercise nearly doubles the insulin response, which results in more stored glycogen and faster recovery times.

Athletes who refuel with carbohydrate and protein have greater muscle glycogen stores than those who only consumed carbohydrate. Insulin was also highest in those who consumed a carbohydrate and protein supplement.

The important thing to understand is this.

After a hard training session the body is depleted of useable protein and amino acids. You have only 30 to 45 minutes to get the protein working for you (post exercise)  to realize the full impact of a quick recovery. The quicker the muscles recover, the better training session you will have the following day.

A turkey or chicken sandwich , sport bar etc., will take up to 24 hours to fully digest and aid recovery. The primary reason for this slower response time is because our body becomes depleted of the amino acids after a training session, and it takes a full 24 hours for our body to regenerate a full spectrum of amino acids. So this is why we need a protein powder with the proper ratio of carbohydrates, protein and the full spectrum of amino acids. A properly balanced protein powder will activate quickly and repair those depleted muscles.

Coach Richard Burke

​Masters endurance runner

Sanctioned/Certificated by

​the governing board of USA Olympics

​track and cross country.

Understanding Protein


​Junior Olympic, Regional and National Championship Team

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