Episodes 329: Protein Supplementation, Leucine Needs, Animal Vs. Plant Sources, Optimized Intake, BCAAs & EAAs, Protein Myths, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Aug 06

Welcome to Episode 329 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Vanessa Spina, author of Keto Essentials: 150 Ketogenic Recipes to Revitalize, Heal, and Shed Weight.

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Listener Q&A: Jobeth - What’s the science on how much protein to eat at a typical meal?

Listener Q&A: Mary - if I eat a meal that has 50 grams of protein, will I only be utilizing 20 to 30 of those grams?

Listener Q&A: Niki - How much leucine does protein have in it per scoop?

Listener Q&A: Kelly - I have questions about protein and the correct amount for women in perimenopause.

Listener Q&A: Hanne - What’s better EEA or BCAA?

Listener Q&A: Denise - Whey protein powder…any knowledge and opinions to share?

Listener Q&A: Sandra - What is the cleanest protein powder to buy and best protein bar?

Our content does not constitute an attempt to practice medicine and does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider for medical advice and answers to personal health questions.


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 329 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. If you want to burn fat, gain energy, and enhance your health by changing when you eat not what you eat, with no calorie counting, then this show is for you. I'm Melanie Avalon, biohacker, author of What When Wine, and creator of the supplement line AvalonX. And I'm here with my cohost, Vanessa Spina, sports nutrition specialist, author of Keto Essentials, and creator of the Tone breath ketone analyzer and Tone Lux red light therapy panels. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and ketogenicgirl.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this show do not constitute medical advice or treatment. To be featured on the show, email us your questions to questions@ifpodcast.com. We would love to hear from you. So, pour yourself a mug of black coffee, a cup of tea, or even a glass of wine if it's that time and get ready for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast.

Vanessa Spina: All right. Well, hello everyone and welcome back to The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm your host, Vanessa Spina and on today's episode, we have a very special guest and that is Scott Emmens joining us from MD Logic. How are you doing today, Scott?

Scott Emmens: I'm doing great, Vanessa. It's a pleasure to be back on IF podcast with you. 

Vanessa Spina: I'm so excited for today's episode because we're going to be answering listener Q&A, but specifically about protein supplementation. And I think it's something that so many people have questions too. I'm really excited specifically to get into some of the nuances around sort of processed food and all of that. There're just so many topics that I'm excited about. So, for listeners. Scott, you've probably heard him on the show before with Melanie because Scott is also Melanie's partner at MD Logic and Scott is the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of MD Logic Health. And prior to that, he was an executive in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years, a bodybuilder, biohacker, certified personal trainer and health and wellness advocate. And Scott started MD Logic in 2021 after selling his former company, Olaregen Therapeutix, [laughs] and pursuit of a more natural approach to the maintenance of well-being and fitness. So, you are all probably very familiar with Scott and MD Logic if you've been listening to the podcast for a while. And today's episode we wanted to specifically talk about protein because myself and Scott are launching Tone Protein powered by MD Logic, which is a protein supplement. So, on today's episode, we're going to talk a little bit about the formulation behind it, why we wanted to create it, and also address some of your amazing questions. So, I am really excited. Did you take a look at the questions, Scott? 

Scott Emmens: I did. I think these are some fantastic questions. I wonder if some of them were spurred by the episode you had on, I think it was two episodes ago with the study on protein fasting versus sort of just a straight fast. And these questions look-- 

Vanessa Spina: The protein pacing. Yeah. So, Dr. Paul Arciero. 

Scott Emmens: That was a great episode. I thought he had a lot of really interesting things to say and I took a lot away from that. But I think these questions are fantastic. 

Vanessa Spina: You know hosting the Optimal Protein podcast. I answer a lot of questions in this vein, but it's so much fun to get to do it on The Intermittent Fasting Podcast because we do focus so much on intermittent fasting and the importance of getting that protein in, in your eating window. Because it does become a little bit trickier when you don't have 12 or 14 or 16 or even 20 hours in a day to just graze or eat. When you're eating in a more condensed window, you want to make sure that you are hitting your protein target. It's just so critical for so many reasons, as this audience well knows. So, I just think it's such an important topic and there are so many questions around it. And specifically, I think also about the supplementation of protein, not just eating protein in the form of animal foods. 

Scott Emmens: Yeah. Absolutely, I think there's a lot to learn about when do you take a protein shake, when do you eat animal foods or plant-based proteins as well? We'll get into that. But yeah, this is going to be, I think, a great episode to clarify a lot of the misnomers or old theories and the new up and coming science.

Vanessa Spina: Yes, exactly. I am so excited to get into the science of protein, protein supplementation and all of your questions specifically about protein. So, for listeners, before we jump into today's episode, if any of you are interested in learning more about Tone Protein, we are going to be offering a significant launch discount to listeners of this podcast members of this community, you can sign up at toneprotein.com and you will not only receive that launch discount, you will also be the first to know when Tone Protein is available to order. So just go toneprotein.com, sign up with your name and email address, and then you'll receive an email to confirm and make sure that you are added to the list. And you will receive that special launch discount and you will also be alerted as soon as Tone Protein is available to order. And we are going to be launching, we are hoping, by September, so it's not that far off. And I am just so excited for you all to try Tone Protein. We have so many amazing, delicious flavors coming, but it is also scientifically optimized to help you build the most amount of lean mass and muscle. And we are going to get into that very specifically in terms of the formulation on this episode because we have some questions about that, specifically. With that, shall we get started with our first question? 

Scott Emmens: Sure. 

Vanessa Spina: All right. Well, Joe Beth asks, "What is the science on how much protein to eat at a typical meal. Getting enough protein can be a problem7 for most. I read once, but I'm not sure if this is fact, but excess protein can turn into fat. We need this to be cleared up. LOL. Protein powder can be expensive of course, there is a difference in animal protein, plant protein and powdered protein utilization. Down the rabbit hole, Melanie Avalon and Vanessa Spina!" So, yes, I definitely agree with you that this needs to be cleared up in terms of the biochemical pathways of too much protein turning into fat. What are your thoughts just after hearing this question? What comes to mind? Because it's kind of a two parter.

Scott Emmens: Yes, I was going to say this is a multiple part question and I think a complex one. We could probably spend the whole show on this question and it's a [laughs] great one. So, let me start with what's the science behind how much protein to eat in a typical meal? Well, it's not too complicated, but essentially if you're eating both whole foods and a protein shake, it's more likely that you can get more absorption from a larger single bolus. If you are taking all of your protein, like, let's say you're trying to get 50 grams or even 35 grams out of just a shake, the research that I've done suggests that you're not going to optimize that protein and you could potentially be oxidizing some of that protein. Now, whether or not it's turning to fat, we'll get to. But your body can only process so much at a certain pace, and when it's pure liquid form, you're going to be getting sort of a bolus dumped all at once. 

Can your body actually take that in, synthesize it, utilize it, break down the amino acids, etc. So, what I've read is that if you eat a meal that has other macronutrients, a little bit of carb, a little bit of fat, like in your typical sort of standard protein diet. So, let's see a nice 4 ounce or 5-ounce slice of grass-fed organic beef along with a little bit of sweet potato and perhaps some additional fat, maybe in the form of a whole butter or something that's going to allow your body to digest it more slowly. So thus, it's going to reduce your insulin response and slow down the digestion process. And then if you cap that off with a protein shake, you're not going to get that bolus of just pure liquid, so you can get that extra protein with your meal. 

Now, some folks find that challenging to do, particularly when you're looking at some of these protein shakes that are trying to give you 25 to 35 grams of protein in one serving. The other potential issue, but maybe unlikely, is can it cause kidney damage? And it seems like there's a lot of mixed science on that, but definitely it's not good for people that have--

Vanessa Spina: It's actually pretty clear these days.

Scott Emmens: That it's not. 

Vanessa Spina: It's not for a healthy individual who has no kidney issues, it is even at excessive levels and excessive and beyond of what the average needs are, it will not harm the kidneys. It's only in the situation where someone has some kind of kidney issue and therefore has a compromised GFR, glomerular filtration rate, they can potentially have issues with overdoing the protein. But for a healthy individual, I have seen so much research now really debunking systematic reviews, everything showing that it is not harmful for anyone who is healthy. And in some cases, people actually need more protein than they think. 

Scott Emmens: So that's exactly where I came down. It was very clear that if you have kidney disease, especially dialysis, excess protein can be damaging. But for healthy individuals, to your point, especially athletic healthy individuals, you're going to be fine regardless of that bolus. So that's where the research that I'm looking at now is coming up with. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. And I think in terms of Joe Beth's first parter of this three parter, in terms of asking what's the science on how much protein to eat at a typical meal? I would say it depends a little bit on your goals. But I'm going to assume that a lot of people listening to this podcast who are interested in optimizing their protein intake are wanting to do so with the goal of having an optimal body composition and at the same time healthy metabolic health. So, the optimal protein intake per meal for that means that there's going to be enough protein at that meal that you will get enough of specifically the amino acid leucine. The level of leucine will raise in your blood above a certain level. For a lot of people, it's around 3 to 4 grams. That will trigger what's known as the leucine threshold and once you go above that amount and that amount is detected in the blood, what happens is it initiates a cascade of muscle protein synthesis. 

So, every day we have a certain level of muscle protein breakdown always occurring. And in order to just maintain the lean mass that we, we have to get enough muscle protein synthesis to keep that in balance. If you're wanting to grow muscle and put on more lean mass, you're probably going to need to have a balance slightly higher on the side of muscle protein synthesis than muscle protein breakdown. So, it depends a little bit on your goals. But I think most people listening to this podcast are wanting to optimize their body composition, their longevity, their health span, and therefore their metabolic health. And so, what that comes down to as well is your age in terms of the science. Because when you're young, as I like to say, you can just look at chicken breast and you'll pretty much put muscle on if you're in your 20s, you barely need to do anything and your body's just going to be synthesizing muscle all the time. 

As you get older, though, it really changes. And if you get, I think, above 45 to 50, the rates of muscle protein breakdown go up and you need way more leucine. It's actually a shocking amount. Like someone in their 70s can need as much as double the amount of leucine. And that becomes difficult, it becomes challenging for people because eating that much protein at a meal can actually be challenging. And I think that's where I really see the role of, say, protein supplementation really shining, because you can get an edge and you can really support muscle protein synthesis without having to eat, like, 12 ounces or two pounds of chicken breast at a meal, [chuckles] which can be a lot. Just to achieve that 5 to 6 grams of leucine that you might need. Because to build muscle, you'll be utilizing all the amino acids. But it really is that specifically that branch chain amino acid leucine that needs to raise in the blood. And this can all be credited to Dr. Don Layman, who I'm a huge fan of. He spent most of his career as an amino acid scientist, actually just discovering this one fact about leucine. So, we owe a lot to him when it comes to understanding the science about what is optimal. 

Now, just as a sort of neat and tidy takeaway, you can target around 30 grams at a meal, 30 to 40 grams of protein at a meal, say, three times a day, or a little bit more than that, twice a day, and you'll probably be able to hit that leucine threshold and initiate the process of muscle protein synthesis. So that's how I've come to understand the science on how much protein at a typical meal is critical. Now, that changes if you're doing time restricted eating or intermittent fasting and you have a shortened eating window. If you're only eating two meals a day or even one meal a day, it's going to look very different. 

Scott Emmens: Yeah. And I think that's where both your comment on leucine and supplementing your meal with a protein shake can really make the difference, because you're going to be able to get much more protein if you're eating it and both having it within your drink versus just having a high protein meal. I know for myself, I'm 175 to 180 pounds in my fighting weight and according to my age, which will remain anonymous for the time being. And this calculator, if I'm "highly active," it's saying I need 212 grams of protein. And I know I'm not going to sit down in a single meal or even a 4-hour eating window and eat two and a half to three pounds of chicken breast and lean grass-fed beef. So, it's just kind of infeasible for me to do that. So that's where I think the protein, and more importantly, what is the composition of the protein, amino acids and leucine to your point being the critical one. 

Vanessa Spina: That's so important when it comes down to selecting a really high-quality protein supplement, because there are, unfortunately, some kinds of protein supplements that are being marketed to people that are not really going to do the job. They're either not really complete proteins. Some of them are actually collagen masquerading as protein powders. There're a lot of proteins that really don't optimize for the amount of leucine. So, if you are going to supplement, you really want to make sure that you're doing it with a super high-quality kind and we will get into that a little bit because you talked about in your question Joe Beth, you asked about the difference in these different animal proteins. But let's talk about your next part of the question, which is about excess protein turning to fat and the pathway there. I can start there if that sounds good to you, Scott? 

Scott Emmens: Yeah. Please, Vanessa. 

Vanessa Spina: So, I do agree with you, this really does need to be cleared up. This is one of the most rare pathways that the body will probably ever undergo, is turning excess protein into fat. What is most likely to happen is once you have utilized all of the protein that you can at a meal, which can be around the range of 30 to 40 grams, the sort of "excess protein" that you've consumed, that is in addition to your needs, will likely be turned into glucose via the pathway of gluconeogenesis. And it's really not a bad thing. It's really not something to fear. It takes 4 to 5 hours after a meal just for your body to break down protein into amino acids. So, most people will see, like, if you're wearing a continuous glucose monitor, CGM, like the one that Melanie and I use from NutriSense, you'll definitely see that your blood glucose will stay pretty stable even if you've eaten a large bolus of protein. 

Some people have a lot of misplaced fears about the insulin spike that can occur after consuming protein because we know that higher levels of insulin can cause the body to store fat. But in the case of protein, it's really not comparable. If your insulin spikes after eating a high carb meal, a super processed high carbohydrate meal, that is definitely going to lead to fat storage. But when insulin spikes after eating a high protein meal, it's to help you build muscle. So, it's really not something to fear and it's very extremely rare. I've looked at so much research on this that the protein that is consumed in excess of what you need will then be turned into glucose via gluconeogenesis, and then that glucose will then be turned into fat. It's just very rare protein is mostly biological material that we are using. Most of our bodies are protein. Like, we're basically protein and water. So, we need protein for not just building muscle, but even for hormones like the hormone insulin itself is a peptide or protein-based hormone. We need protein for virtually everything. 

Our cells are little protein printers. They have little 3D printers in them that are printing proteins for us constantly. So, our requirement for protein is relatively high. Most people I find undereat protein, or even if they overshoot a little bit, it's better to overshoot slightly and have a little extra glucose that your body will actually store as glycogen in your muscle, likely maybe a little bit in your liver, than to undereat protein and not get enough. Because that's where people, I think, run into issues, is if you are eating protein at your meal, but every single time you eat, you're not eating enough protein to trigger muscle protein synthesis, you're not getting enough leucine. That's when it can all turn to glucose. And that's when I think people can run into issues with that pathway of potentially turning into fat. So, you have to hit that threshold, that minimum amount of leucine, to make sure that your body is triggering muscle protein synthesis. Whether you are an athlete, whether you do resistance training and workout or not, it's really important to hit that to make sure that protein actually does get mainly utilized to build muscle, to repair muscle, and for all the other processes that body needs. 

Scott Emmens: Yeah. Vanessa, I almost just want to say ditto so many great things that you said. One I just want to hit a little bit, which is insulin is an anabolic hormone, not just for storing fat, but for storing and helping to create muscles to get the glycogen and the amino acids into the muscle. So, it's really one of your most powerful anabolic hormones, is insulin. In my bodybuilding days, when I was doing heavy lifting all the time and taking a lot of protein, we utilized that little bit of insulin spike with protein, post a workout to help with the muscle growth or anabolic effect of the protein. Where I think it turns into fat is when people are eating protein with a high carb meal, particularly if they're eating like, mashed potatoes out of a box or something, your glucose is going to spike at that point, and that's what's going to put on the fat. But if you're eating a high protein meal with relatively low carbs, your protein is not going to turn into fat, more than likely to your point, I think you nailed it. 

It's really going to come down to the varying difference in how insulin works on proteins. And the other thing you hit on is every single cell in your body, every process, your cartilage, your ligaments, your skin, your muscle, it all requires protein. And you are in this continual stage of degrading protein. And if you're not telling your body, "Hey, we have enough protein." It thinks, "Well, maybe I need to eat protein and store fat because fat is the way your body survives and stored in starvation time." So, I completely agree that protein turning to fat is going to be exceptionally rare, if not almost impossible. But you'd have to eat an awful lot of protein in a single meal for it to turn into fat. 

Vanessa Spina: You just made me think actually about the example of rabbit starvation, which you know, occurs when people-- I forget what the context was exactly, maybe they were early explorers.


Scott Emmens: If you're in the Arctic or a cold environment and you're eating just rabbit that doesn't have enough fat on it or other nutrients, and you will literally starve death if you eat nothing but rabbits. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes. And part of it is because of the high thermic effect of protein. So, you burn so many calories in breaking down protein. And if all you're eating is protein, even if you're eating tons of it, rabbit is very, very lean, which is where the term comes from. You also don't have enough micronutrients and B vitamins to really help you process and break down all of the protein. But people don't get fat. [chuckles] These explorers, for example, they didn't get fat just eating tons and tons of rabbit meat, which is super lean. They actually were starving because the body burns so many calories. You really boost your metabolic rate when you eat a lot of protein and there was zero energy coming in from it because it is such a lean meat. So, if excess protein turned to fat, they would have all ended up obese. [chuckles]

Scott Emmens: Correct. And I learned that watching Alone, which is one of my favorite TV shows, which is, for those you don’t know, a survival show. And Joe Beth, we did not mean to go down the rabbit hole in that sense. 

Vanessa Spina: [laughs] Well, that's amazing callback. Finally, Joe Beth, you asked about the difference in animal protein, plant protein, and powdered protein utilization. Just to round out the question there in and the sort of last part of it, do you want to start with that one, Scott? 

Scott Emmens: Yeah, sure. So, I think animal protein is probably your best source and there is a way that you can look up like what is a complete protein. And what do we mean by a complete protein? It means that it has all nine essential amino acids plus others in certain ratios and it has to meet those amino acid ratios to be considered a whole protein. Animal protein is the only, well, I should say animal based. So that means egg, milk, meat. Those are things that are going to give you a complete protein in various amino acid concentrations. And we'll talk a little bit more about that as we get more into leucine and other amino acids, but leucine being the critical factor. So, animal protein, I think, is probably one of your best sources if you can get that and eat enough of that. But I find even I can't do that in a 4 to 6 hour eating window is just too difficult. Plant proteins are, in my opinion, a valid way to get some additional protein, but it's usually not going to be complete unless you blend multiple plants. And then you have other issues, like lectins or how much powder are you having to scoop from that if it's a plant-based powder, in terms of plant-based protein, you'd have to eat an enormous amount of varying plants, beans, legumes in order to get the right amino acid ratio to get to a complete protein. 

Honestly, there's no way I could survive on a plant protein diet in the lifestyle I want, in the muscle mass I want to maintain, and just to take a quick step back. Vanessa, there is so much literature on longevity and health span connected directly to your lean muscle mass as you age. So, I think that's something I really want to make sure the audience recognizes is if you look up what are the key factors that are going to determine your longevity and health span as you age, it's going to be muscle mass, lower body strength, grip strength, ironically enough, and bone in your skeletal system. And all of that requires protein. So, it's really important that you have significant lean muscle mass going into it. So, plant-based protein, well, I think should be a part of your overall healthy diet if you can tolerate that. But for me, it's just an inefficient way to get the protein I need into my body. And then in terms of the powders, you're going to utilize a great deal of powdered amino acid, depending on the kind of powder it is and depending on how much you're taking at once and depending upon what the amino acid ratio is in that protein. I don't know if you want me to go further into that or just leave it at that for now, Vanessa.

Vanessa Spina: Well, actually, our next question kind of segues into this, I think, a little bit of where you want to go with this. So, we'll jump into Mary's question. She says, "I recently read that you can only, "use a certain number of grams of protein at one meal." So, if I eat a meal that has 50 grams of protein, will I only be utilizing 20 to 30 of those grams? I figured out a way to make my protein shake 50 grams, but if I'm losing 20 grams, is it worth wasting a scoop of protein powder? I'm interested to see what you say."


Scott Emmens: I would not do 50 grams in a protein shake in one single serving only because your body's going to try to process that in that liquid form so quickly. That is when you can get into some potential oxidation of the protein. That is when you might get so much, you're just not digesting it properly, because liquid protein is going to go through your system much faster than, like you had mentioned earlier, 6 to 7 hours for-- 4 to 6 hours, like you said, for your animal-based proteins. Well, if it's a liquid-based protein, it's going to be digested much faster than that and I really think 50 is way too high in a single shake. That's my personal opinion. That's not based on any study that I've read, but in the overall cohort of protein synthesis, protein digestion, there are specific articles and clinical trials that look at or if you're taking just a liquid-based protein shake, like what that kind of peak is, it tends to peak out depending on who you are, etc., in terms of efficiency, around 25 grams for one single liquid shake. I think you're probably doing a disservice, and I would say probably a little bit of that extra scoop you're putting in is not going to beneficial. And again, it goes back to what is the amino acid breakdown of that protein and what type of protein is it. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes, I agree. And like you said, when you process food, you make it more easy for the body to digest and assimilate. So, it definitely speeds up that process of absorption in terms of the absorption rate, rather than if you're eating a large steak, you have to take a lot more time to break that down into individual amino acids versus when something is processed. And not all processing is bad, which is one of the sort of nuances I wanted to get into. Anytime you're cooking food, you are processing the food more. When we talk about processed foods being bad for you, it usually is with regards to hyperpalatable, ultra processed food, which is not really that much food anymore. A lot of times it's like food like product. Whereas when you are processing something like yogurt or cheese, you're processing it minimally in order to make it tangy, have some probiotics in it, give it some flavor. 

It's a minimal amount of processing, but it is still processing. But that doesn't mean that cheese or yogurt are not still whole foods and very good for you. And with protein powder, what's great is that it is a little bit more processed than, say, grass-fed steak. But that is really helpful when you are wanting to get in all the protein that you need in the day more efficiently or just hit your leucine threshold target, or just not having that much time. Like, I love either sometimes replacing breakfast or one of my meals with a protein shake because it's just so quick and easy, it takes me 5 minutes to make. And yes, that does come with a little bit more rapid absorption which is why, precisely to your point, Scott, you don't want to overdo how much protein you're consuming. And this sort of takes me a little bit Tone Protein and what we wanted to create here, because a lot of times I actually recommend that people sort of overshoot a little bit, like over the 25 grams, to make sure they get at least 3 grams of leucine. Because if you're doing a high-quality protein powder like a whey, which is about usually around 10% to 11% the amino acid leucine, in terms of content, you're probably going to get around 2.5 grams for 25 grams of protein and around 3 grams of leucine for 30 grams of protein. So, I tend to recommend people overshoot just a little bit because it's better, like I was saying earlier, to make sure you hit that leucine threshold than to underdo it and not hit the leucine amount that you need. 

However, with Tone Protein, we've sort of created something that really doesn't exist on the market, as far as I know, because it is scientifically optimized to help you build lean mass without having to put in two or three huge scoops of protein powder and have 50, 60 or beyond that protein grams, which could cause some issues, like overdoing it a little bit in terms of that absorption. Instead, what we've done is optimize the amino acid profile to contain more leucine, so that you have that leucine, which is like the key in the ignition, starting the car, it's turning the ignition, it's initiating the process of muscle protein synthesis, and then you have the other grams of protein there to help you. And I was doing some videos on my Instagram last night showing people the difference with that giant red scoop that you sent me, which is like a standard sort of "meathead" like protein powder scoop. And it's absolutely huge. You can fit at least two, if not more, of the Tone Protein scoops in there and it really shows you the difference in terms of volume. And so to just be able to put one scoop in and know that my body is going to be able to trigger muscle protein synthesis or initiate it without having to just have scoops and scoops of all this protein, which is going to make you potentially feel a bit sluggish, a bit bloated, maybe put a little bit of that protein towards excess glucose, like just overdoing a little bit. 

Whereas in my opinion, what you want to do is hit as close to your protein target as possible. You want to hit it so that you are initiating muscle protein synthesis, but you are not providing so much extra protein in the process that you can have those issues. And people have all kinds of issues like waking up all night to pee because they're just having too much protein to break down and sequester the nitrogen and the liver and then excrete that as urea in urine. There're just a lot of issues that can come up from really eating too much protein. So, I'm always about Optimal Protein, the name of my podcast, because it's not that easy to just hit the target to get enough. So, you are hitting your goals, but without overdoing it. And that's why I'm so excited in particular about Tone Protein and how it is scientifically optimized to help you build that lean mass in the most efficient way possible without all that extra protein. 

Scott Emmens: Yeah. Absolutely, I think it comes down to what is the minimal effective dose and what is the absolute optimal dose. And then some people, we go beyond the optimal because we want to make sure we hit optimal. And I think that's what's going to be great about Tone Protein is that it is engineered to be the optimal way to get the right amount of protein, but more importantly, the right amount of amino acids in the right ratios. Specifically, leucine, as you so eloquently put it. And I was one of those meatheads when I was 24 as a bodybuilder, taking those giant scoops of protein. And it got to the point where it was just like you felt bloated and you've got digestive issues because it's a huge scoop. Someone in the earlier had said they're doing the two scoops. I don't know how on earth I could do two of those giant scoops that I'd sent you. And even I was shocked when I opened up that scooper and I was like, "Holy moly, that is a lot of powder." [laughs] So just one clarification too, when I say engineered, so processed food, as you mentioned, is food that is processed like a frozen pizza. 

There's very little nutrition in a frozen pizza. Whereas protein powders for the most part are more like engineered versus processed. Yes, they are processed, but that's what allows them to be effective, that you're going to get that, it's easy to digest, it's easy to make, it's easy to get that protein into your body. So, what we're doing with Tone Protein, with MD Logic Health, is to just say what is the optimal ratio of amino acids and what's the perfect amount of protein that people can get? And if they want to add a little more based on their activity or their age, they can do that. 

Vanessa Spina: The next question from Nikki is another sort of follow up to that. Nikki asks, "I have a feeling that she's going to answer this anyway," speaking about me. "But how much leucine does Tone Protein have in it per scoop?" 

Scott Emmens: So right now, the current formula, we have 7 grams in there of leucine. We're still tweaking that because I think Vanessa, I think we were talking about 6 kind of being the perfect number. We might bring that down to 6, but it's going to have between 6 and 7 grams of total leucine in the formula.

Vanessa Spina: Which is huge, which means that no matter what age you are [chuckles] taking one scoop will get you enough leucine content in your bloodstream to trigger muscle protein synthesis. And it's going to help you be able to build muscle without having all that excess amount of protein that you probably don't need, but you don't have to worry if you're hitting that leucine threshold with your meal or with your shake, or with your meal plus shake. And this is something that I actually personally started doing with my father last year after he was recovering from back surgery, because he doesn't like to eat a lot of protein and he likes to eat more rice and noodles and just not a lot of animal protein. So, what I started getting him to do was to take leucine with his meals so that he could complement the protein that he was getting and make sure that at his age, he was hitting that leucine threshold and that would help him be able to recover much quicker from his surgery. 

A few weeks ago, he won his local golf tournament [chuckles] after having back surgery only a year ago. And that's a testament to all his hard work and recovery. But I definitely think that the fact that he was prioritizing his muscle recovery and making sure to supplement properly probably helped a little bit in making sure that he was able to recover all that lean mass and as much as possible, because it is so much harder to do, they say, after the age of 40. I know for women, I'm not sure if it's the same for men, but women have a much harder time maintaining our muscle because our hormone levels change and certain hormones, like estrogen especially, can go lower, and it makes it much harder for women to retain lean mass. 

And that actually leads us into our next question, which was from Kelly, and she says, "I have a question about protein and the correct amount for women in perimenopause. I keep hearing different amounts, 75 to 120 grams seems to be the range. Also, do amino acids replace animal protein or do you add it with protein? So, if you are doing one meal a day and potentially not getting enough animal protein, I have been doing one meal a day for eight months, and I have lost weight, but I'm also losing muscle (my butt has disappeared}." Crying, laughing emoji.

Scott Emmens: I think that's the critical issue. [laughs]

Vanessa Spina: "Yes. I don't want to necessarily gain big muscle, but I need help with getting that tone back. I am looking forward to having Vanessa on the podcast. What an incredible duo?" Awe. That's so sweet. [laughs] Thank you so much, Kelly. I really appreciate the kind comments, and I love that you asked about your butt and being toned, because let's face it, a lot of us are interested in metabolic health, but we also want to be toned and maintain that muscle tone that we work so hard to achieve in the gym. And so, yes, for sure. Like I was just saying, as you approach menopause, your hormone levels are going to fluctuate and change. And it's one of the reasons that women have a harder time just maintaining the lean mass that we've built over the years. And that's why it's so critical to make sure that you're hitting that leucine threshold with your protein meals so that you won't lose muscle. And I'm not saying that it's inevitable that you'll lose muscle if you're doing one meal a day, but it is a little bit trickier to make sure that you are getting enough protein in. So that's why making sure that you are hitting the right amount of protein at your meals is really key. Do you have any thoughts on that, Scott? 

Scott Emmens: Yeah. So, I think the differing amounts, 75 to 120 grams. Well, it really depends on your activity level and your lean weight. So, you should be getting somewhere between 0.8 and 1 gram or a little bit more per lean body weight. So, if you're 140 pounds of fairly lean body weight, you should be getting around 140 to 130 grams of protein. So, I don't know that a range of 75 to 120 is really an accurate range. And I think, again, it's going to come back to leucine, which also triggers growth hormone response. So, growth hormone is a powerful way to maintain muscle mass without gaining any excess weight. So, the leucine also acts as a way to keep your lean muscle without adding any fat. And there's another thing I might wait here, but she goes into the amino acids replacing animal protein. I don't know if you want me to get into that or just hold for a moment. 

Vanessa Spina: No, go ahead.

Scott Emmens: So I think part of the reason and I don't know if this is the case, Kelly, but if you're doing just amino acids to replace the animal protein, that could be causing some of the loss of muscle mass because you're not getting sufficient total grams of protein. And it's funny enough, amino acids, I was actually having a conversation with our lead formulator and chemist about essential amino acids, and you can't count them as protein. So, if you put an essential amino acid powder together, you can't say it's x number of grams of protein. You just have to list it as the amino acids that you're getting in grams or milligrams. And the reason for that is that even though the nine essentials might make up a fairly complete protein, it's not a complete protein. And so, you can't call it a protein. There's nothing else in there your body literally will absorb those really quickly. It will put it onto your muscle mass, but there's no additional protein there other than those amino acids. So, you might only be getting the comparison of maybe 10 grams of protein from an essential amino acid powder, which is not sufficient. So that could be part of why you're losing a little bit of weight. So, I think to answer the question, you might not be getting enough animal protein and/or just full complete protein from a whey isolate protein. That's my answer to that part of that question, which is can they replace? And I would say no, they're a great addition. I'm a big fan of both essential amino acids and branch chain amino acids. They're particularly helpful pre-workout and post-workout, particularly if it's resistance training, but they're not really a replacement for protein. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes, I agree with everything that you said specifically on the first question, I personally also like to use an equation depending on if you know your lean body mass or not. If you do know your lean body mass, if you had a DEXA body scan done and say you know that you have like 104 pounds of lean body mass, you can easily from that do a calculation of 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. If you don't know your lean body mass, you can just go with your ideal body weight. So, if your ideal body weight is 140, like you said, you could have 140 grams of protein per day. I also have a macro calculator on my website, which is ketogenicgirl.com, where you can also check out Tone Protein soon, but there's a macro calculator on there and you can calculate calories. You can also calculate the macros and the protein depending on your weight and your activity levels, which also make a huge difference. So, age, weight, activity levels are going to be the biggest factors when it comes to figuring out how much protein. And again, as you age, you need more. If you are doing resistance training, you need more. If you're doing any kind of growth, [chuckles] like you're growing muscle or you're growing a baby, you need more. We need a lot more protein when we are trying to grow our muscles or even just maintain those toned butts that [laughs] we work so hard to achieve. 

Lastly, with regards to the question one meal a day, so I wanted to just share anecdotally that if I ever do one meal a day, which I do from time to time, especially when I'm really busy, because meal prep and cleanup and everything just takes so much time. I do sometimes do one meal a day and when I do, I always have a high-protein prioritized meal and I always chase it with a high-quality protein shake. And I make sure that I am getting enough protein at that meal because it is really hard sometimes with one meal a day to just sit there and eat that much protein in the form of animal protein. And I love animal protein, [laughs] like whether it's fish, chicken, turkey, beef, I just love it all. So, it is still hard for me to get enough protein if I'm doing just one meal a day. So, I always make sure to have a protein shake at the end. And I actually in the summertime, I usually have a protein shake after dinner just because I love making what I call protein ice cream, and I love having a delicious cold protein shake. It tastes like frozen yogurt or ice cream. I put unsweetened almond milk in there, ice, frozen berries, and I use Tone Protein and make a delicious either like a frozen sort of berry type of shake, which tastes a lot like frozen yogurt, or I just do vanilla plain, like a vanilla milkshake with Tone Protein, unsweetened almond milk and ice. And it's just a really nice way to-- it's like a dessert at the end of your meal. So, I love doing that in the summer as well.

Scott Emmens: Man that sounds fantastic. I can't wait to-- I love ice cream, but obviously not good for the waistline. So, I am definitely going to be trying, that for sure. So, if you're doing one meal a day, it might not be optimal to eat eggs at your one meal a day, but eggs, from what I've looked up and from bodybuilding days and from just a percentage of the amount of protein you're going to digest and how high quality it is, they're really easy to digest. Scrambled eggs, you can make four or five scrambled eggs, and it's not going to fill you up nearly as much as a meat would. So that might be a way to incorporate with your one meal a day, throw a couple of extra eggs into that meal and super easy to digest, very high-quality protein. So that might be a way to get that additional protein too. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. That's a great tip for sure. I love eggs. I'm obsessed with eggs, so [laughs] I love that idea. Now our next question from Hen or Hena on Facebook sort of circles around some of what we've just been talking about. So, "is there a real maximum of protein your body can uptake in one meal/drink? And should a 50-plus-year-old woman always take EAAs with their protein shake? What's better. EAAs essential amino acids or BCAAs, which is branch chain amino acids?" 

Scott Emmens: So, in terms of should you always take them? I don't think you always have to take them. I don't think they hurt. And if you feel like you're getting benefit from that, there's nothing wrong with adding essential amino acids, although I don't necessarily think you need all of those essential aminos because you're getting a complete essential amino in the shake. So, I think it's going to come down again to what Vanessa and I are talking about, which is what are the most important amino acids to get your body into protein synthesis, and particularly that lean tissue growth. And that's going to be leucine again. So, it's not necessarily bad, but I think you're probably taking in a lot of excess essential amino acids that you don't necessarily need with a protein shake. And if you're taking just a protein shake, BCAAs and the primary activate ingredient in BCAAs is leucine, isoleucine, and valine that's your BCAAs. So, leucine is really the primary kicker in that. That's why you'll always see like a 2:1 ratio. Well, that 2:1 ratio in BCAAs is 2 grams of leucine for every 1 gram of isoleucine and valine hence why leucine is so critical. So, I think if you're taking Tone Protein, you're not going to necessarily need any additional essential amino acids because you're getting all those essential amino acids within whatever that complete protein shake, you're taking is, and the leucine rounds it off. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes, that's exactly what I would have said. I definitely, choosing between the two. I would supplement by adding BCAAs, but you really don't need to add the essential amino acids unless that's all you're having. If you're not having any protein or a protein shake, then you maybe want to take essential amino acids. But if you're taking a protein shake or protein meal, you don't need to add essential amino acids, but you could add BCAAs or leucine, which is what we're doing already, and having the optimal amount within the protein powder, which would be Tone Protein. So that's all that I would add there. 

Denise asks, "with regards to whey protein powder, any knowledge and opinions to share? In my research, I have found many bad comments, such as it is inflammatory, toxic for the liver, highly processed and refined, not bioavailable, because only 18% is utilized by your body. The rest is passed through the kidneys, turned into sugar, stored as fat, and creates bulk." So, I just want to start off [chuckles] by saying that this reminds me so much of what I used to think about protein supplements, especially whey, when I was vegan and vegetarian. This is the kind of messaging that I would often see in vegan and vegetarian literature, vegan and vegetarian media, movies. This is the kind of stuff that I truly believed until I personally went back to school to study biochemistry, because I was tired of the politics of things and being influenced one way or another based on food politics [laughs] or animal politics. I wanted to just know the actual biochemistry. And I can tell you that every single one of those statements is actually false and is not actually scientific. So not saying that you are wrong in any way, but that these beliefs or these thoughts are based on bad facts. So, I'd love if Scott and I can just clear up some of these things. So, the first one is it inflammatory? 

Scott Emmens: So, Vanessa, in order to be complete, I wanted to make sure I answered this essential amino acid question fully. And to start, I just want to say that this particular piece of information is coming directly from an essential amino acids supplement company utilizing this number of percent of whey protein being absorbed. And that's a huge jump from what 18% number is really trying to state. And I'm not going to get into that particular company or who they are, as I don't want to say anything negative about essential amino acids or their company, but that particular piece of data, zero sourcing. And it's a huge, in fact, it's just a complete in factual leap to say that the other remaining amino acids are going to turn into fats and sugars. It's absolutely ridiculous science, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the science. So, let's talk a little bit about why a complete protein with essential amino acids is really a great way to grow your muscles and maintain your overall health. 

So just quickly, there are 11 nonessential amino acids. However, some of these nonessential amino acids are either considered more and/or supplementation with them is demonstrating positive results in certain areas. So, alanine, for example, functions by removing toxins from your body into production of glucose and it produces other amino acids. Cysteine acts as antioxidant and provides resistance to the body, and it's important for making collagen. Glutamine promotes a healthy brain function and is essential for the synthesis of DNA and RNA. Glycine is helpful in maintaining proper cell growth and its function. Glutamic acid is a neurotransmitter and involved in development of functioning brains. Arginine helps promote the synthesis and proteins of hormones, detoxification in the kidneys, and plays a major role in both wound healing and muscle recovery. Tyrosine plays a vital role in the production of thyroid hormones. Serine helps promote muscle growth and the synthesis of immune proteins.


Asparagine is mainly involved in the transportation of nitrogen in our cells and also supports the synthesis of DNA. Aspartic acid plays a major role in metabolism and promoting the synthesis of other amino acids. And proline is mainly involved in repairing the tissue formation of collagen, preventing the thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries and the regeneration of new skin. And as we all know, collagen is one of the most in fact, it is the most prevalent protein in our body. So, if you're utilizing only essential amino acids and not getting a complete amino acid profile from a total protein, you're going to have to use all of those amino acids to make all these 11. And then these 11, once they're made, they have to be used to make some of the other amino acids. So, three or four of these amino acids are critical in the creation of the other amino acids in the non-essential. So, you really need to have certain essential amino acids? 

Yes, absolutely the nine are very important, but without getting a complete protein, you risk being deficient in one or more of these other amino acids as you're utilizing all of the essential amino acids for either muscle creation or the creation of all of these other amino acids. You can also have different disease states, such as metabolic diseases, liver disorders, just a general genetic predisposition to not be able to synthesize certain amino acids properly. Vitamin C plays a critical role in the development of many of these. So, your levels of vitamin C can be depleted. So, when you only take in essential amino acids, you're forcing your body to work harder, and it could result in a deficiency in some of these other amino acids. Let's take a look at a couple of examples just to prove that point.

So, here's a study on glycine. The results of recent studies indicate that endogenous, meaning inside, endogenous synthesis of glycine and proline is inadequate for maximal growth and collagen production. It also goes on to state that serine is a non-essential amino acid that is biosynthesized via enzymes, phosphatidylglycerol and also phosphatidylserine aminotransferase and besides its role in protein synthesis, it is a potent neurotropic factor and a precursor to a number of essential compounds, including phosphatidylserine and glycine, d-serine, etc. And it goes on further. Dietary proline another example. Dietary proline is a necessary amino acid for promoting tissue repair and nitrogen balance in mammals and humans, especially in respects to wounds and burns, meaning healing. Well, when you work out, you're doing minor micro damage to your muscles. Thus proline, proline is also critical in collagen. These findings have an important implication for proline as a dietary essential nutrient for humans and animals under certain physiological and pathological conditions. 

Meaning physiologically are you under great strain? Are you injured? Do you have achy joints? Or are your joints hurting? Does your body need to help create more collagen to protect those joints? And if you're burning up all of your other amino acids, you may or may not be getting sufficient proline. Further, new developments in proline metabolism are shaping the science and the practice of human nutrition. Merging evidence consistently points to proline as an important regulator of cell metabolism and physiology. Therefore, proline can be considered as both functional and potentially essential amino acid. This promising role of proline is expected to be translated into the efficiency of nutrient utilization and improved health in organisms. Another study that was done in combining essential amino acids and whey protein. This is just the conclusion. I'm trying to keep it brief. We conclude that a composition of balanced essential amino acids combined with whey protein is highly anabolic, essentially saying that EAAs by themselves are anabolic, whey by itself is anabolic, EAAs and whey protein combined is the most anabolic and that makes complete sense.

To me, I love essential amino acids, there's nothing wrong with them. But as your primary source of protein, it's probably not your best thing to do in combination with whey, which is what we're doing to create a balanced amount of whey protein and then include the proper amount of leucine and branch chain amino acids to stimulate the maximum amount of anabolic support with the amino acids that play the most essential role. So, getting a complete protein as well as the essential amino acids or the branch chain amino acids, I should say, that are so critical in your protein synthesis. So essential amino acids, to conclude, are really good when you take them, maybe immediately post workout and/or post workout with the whey, or have whey post workout and maybe your essentials before the workout. What I like to do is have essential amino acids prior to my work out because they're a little lighter on my stomach, and then have a whey protein. And I may or may not put a scoop of essential amino acids in with that, but whey protein by itself is going to give you all of the essential amino acids and all 11 of the non-essential amino acids. 

So, if you're looking for a one and done, that's your whey protein. If you are really into weightlifting and resistance training and looking for that max anabolic growth, then you could certainly add an essential amino acid. And I have nothing against that. In fact, it's probably a product we're going to be looking to work on down the road. But I just want to bring home the point. And also with this last study, biochemically, one third of collagen molecule is composed of glycine, also another nonessential amino acid. The next amino acid component is proline. So back to proline. Together they comprise 23% of the collagen molecule. They are very important to support wounded collagen and collagen synthesis, and for adequate nutrition, assuring that the provision of calories of protein is complete, it goes on to say, however, despite adequate nutrition, clinically, there is a need to enhance collagen synthesis. And research has focused on the fact that collagen synthesis is increased by proline and by arginine. And arginine is another nonessential amino acid which actually helps create proline. And so, you would have to make arginine from your essential amino acids, which is then converted into proline. So, you're again burning up those essential amino acids and kind of burning your body's metabolism, all of the other enzymes and vitamins and minerals that act as cofactors and the other amino acids, including the nonessentials, to create all 20 amino acids. 

So, again, nothing wrong with essential amino acids as an additive. It's a great way to add some low calorie aminos to your diet. But in terms of getting your full body, especially for collagen, if you want to make sure that your joints and your skin are really holding up, you really want to make sure you're getting complete protein, and then you can certainly feel free to add essential amino acids to that. But I just wanted to make sure we cleared that up. I hope that was helpful. Every single bit of literature I can find has nothing but praise for whey isolates. Where whey protein can be inflammatory is if you're getting a cheaper version of whey, which is called whey concentrate, they have not removed the lactose and other impurities in that protein. And so, what's causing the inflammation is the lactose. It's not the protein itself. So, in terms of where that's coming from, it's coming from, again, maybe a cherry-picked piece of data on whey concentrate, which is not often used these days. But if you see a very inexpensive whey protein, odds are its whey concentrate and that's the one that's going to give you bloating, inflammation and cause these other issues. But whey protein isolates not going to cause any of these. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes, and this is huge for anyone who is taking a protein supplement already, make absolutely sure that when you are purchasing your whey protein, that when you look at the ingredients, you just see whey protein isolate because a lot of the times you will turn the product around and the first ingredient will be whey protein concentrate and the second will be whey protein isolate. And so, the product is mostly concentrate and that's because it is much cheaper to produce.

Scott Emmens: And oftentimes it'll say whey protein isolates on the front of the labeling with the marketing part. But when you flip it around, you look at the supplement facts, that's what to your point, Vanessa, when it's going say, what's really in there and if whey concentrate is in there at all, I wouldn't take it. But if it's the first ingredient, that's going to mean the bulk of that protein is coming from whey concentrate. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes, I couldn't agree more and I think you're absolutely right. That is the issue with them being potentially inflammatory. And a lot of people believe that dairy is inflammatory when it's actually one of the best foods for building muscle. And the fact that whey is a derivative of dairy is because of the high leucine content. Like some of the highest leucine content foods are milk. The reason is to help you build muscle and grow. And that's one of the reasons it has one of the highest biological value in terms of protein. I think it's like breast milk, eggs and whey are the top three when it comes to just the biological value, the quality of that protein, and the higher quality, not only better absorption, but the better effects you're going to have in terms of building your muscle. So being toxic for the liver, I'm not sure where that comes from. 

It's definitely a myth because when your body breaks down protein, there is nitrogen with the protein, but your body needs nitrogen. We need nitrogen. We are a species that requires nitrogen. So, what happens is the liver will actually sequester that nitrogen and it will get rid of it. It'll excrete it via the urine, so it turns it into urea. So, it sequesters the ammonia that comes from breaking down protein in the nitrogen and it sequesters it very safely in the liver. And then you just excrete it as you do other things that your body doesn't need or use. So, it's not toxic for the liver. There was a lot of mythology out there surrounding protein being bad for the kidneys, which we addressed when we started off the episode. But I've done a lot of episodes of my podcast just debunking that and showing the systematic reviews, showing that for a healthy individual with healthy functioning kidney and livers, there are definitely no issues with regards to any kind of toxicity. 

Scott Emmens: And again, I would say this probably comes from whey concentrate and the low-quality protein, maybe there's dyes, fillers, chemical agents that they're using in that particular study. But this definitely where this came from, I think is looking at either a whey concentrate or some very impure form of a whey protein.


Vanessa Spina: Yes, and then the next part, it not being bioavailable, it actually is the most bioavailable protein because when you look at plant proteins, although I think that some of them have value to them, the proteins and the amino acids in the plants are made for plants. The amino acids and proteins in animal protein are made for us. So, [chuckles] our bodies are able to absorb, digest, simulate and build from them much more easily. So, it is actually the most bioavailable. So only being able to absorb or use 18% is definitely not true. You're probably absorbing and utilizing all of it. And because our protein recommendations are so low, they're a lot lower than they should be for most people. Most people are undernourished when it comes to protein. And so, it's very likely that if you start increasing your protein percentage or your protein intake, your body's going to use all of it, if not most of it. But it would never use such a low amount as 18%. 

Scott Emmens: I couldn't agree more. I'll just say [chuckles] absolutely correct. Whey protein is one of the most bioavailable forms of protein you're going to get. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes. And the rest being passed to the kidneys, turning into sugar and stored as fat, creating bulk this really is also untrue. And if you look at aesthetic competitor's, bodybuilders, they are probably the biggest users of whey protein and protein supplementation. And they are the ones who are the most lean, the most ripped, most jacked, the most muscled, and they compete against each other on stage for who has the most muscle. So, if all this whey protein or protein that they were eating was just turning into sugar or turning into fat, then they would all be obese. But the protein is not fuel in the same way that carbs and fats are fuel. Those are fuels that the body can store and can use. Protein cannot be stored. It is a biological material and you have to think of it in terms of two different categories. 

There're fuel categories which are fat and carb, and then there is building blocks and that's protein. So, when you're eating protein, not only are you losing 20% to 30% of the calories just in breaking it down, which boosts your metabolic rate, but you're using that protein to build tissue, to build muscle, to build organs, to build bone, which is mineralized protein to build hormones, to build neurotransmitters. There are so many things that we need amino acids for and it's definitely not being turned into sugar, being stored as fat. And the last point of making you bulky, I think this is a huge myth that was out there for a long time, that women should avoid doing strength training because they would become bulky. And anyone who has taken up resistance training and tried to grow muscle knows how hard it is to even just put on a pound of muscle. And even if you try your hardest and you're supplementing with all the whey and you're working out five to six times a week, it's still hard to put muscle on. So, women, when we put muscle on, we tend to not get bulky. We actually just look leaner and fitter and our clothes feel better. So, it's really such an outdated concern that people have. And I understand why people have this belief because it was something that a lot of us believed for a long time and why we were all just like little cardio bunnies working out at the gym and just being fueled off of all that cortisol which is not great for muscle instead of lifting weights, which out of a fear of becoming bulky and really that's not what happens at all. 

Scott Emmens: Yeah. And I can tell you as a former bodybuilder, I got on stage at 4% body fat and those --last yeah, it was really lean. And my last week of food was almost exclusively protein up until the day of the competition, where you eat a bunch of carbs and you carb up to get your muscles full of carbohydrates and glycogen to make them pop more. But yeah, you're basically eating pure protein. My diet was 12 egg whites in the morning, 12 egg whites in the afternoon, three or four chicken breasts at night, and a few protein shakes in between and that was on top of intense, intense training. So yeah, you're not going to be putting a lot of stored fat. I think, again, that's coming from glucose or lactose rather, or other impurities. And I think you nailed it on the bulk. I think part of that too, having been in that world, is a lot of my colleagues and a lot of even the female weightlifters were taking steroids. And so that's, I think, what created that myth in the 80s and 90s, that pervade into 2000s. I think we're finally breaking that myth. But you're exactly right, it takes an enormous amount of work. And I know because I was competing with people on steroids and I had to work incredibly hard at my diet and in the gym in my 20s to put on muscle mass, it was very hard to put on muscle mass. Now I'm 52, giving away my age, and it's gotten substantially harder to maintain and put on muscle mass. It definitely doesn't get easier. So, if you're in your 30s, this is the time to create your foundation because it's only going to get more difficult. 

Vanessa Spina: Now, Sandra asks, "what is the cleanest protein powder to buy and the best protein bar?" And Joe Beth says, I agree, that's my question as well. 

Scott Emmens: So, the cleanest isn't on the market yet, but it's about to be. That'll be Tone Protein. We're taking that very seriously, which is why the formula that we're engineering and tweaking to perfection will be out shortly. I know Vanessa will have updates for all of you guys as to when that's going to be available. There are some really good whey proteins out there, but I would encourage you to look at the label and see what is in the protein. And the less stuff in it, the cleaner it's going to be. You just want whey protein isolates without any concentrate and the least amount of additional dyes, flavors, etc., that you can get in there. Most of them, I don't know any of them that have extra leucine in them I think will be the first on the market, which might be a trendsetter, and I'm sure it will be. Is that also the plant based one or no, that's a different question. 

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. There was a question from Denise asking "if plant-based protein powder is a better alternative. I'm really trying hard to get my protein macros in for the day and using protein powder seems to be the only way for me." 

Scott Emmens: Okay, so I'll circle back to the bars. --I used to do the protein bars. I've stopped doing them because I haven't really found a protein bar that I personally like. So, I just take branch chain amino acids during the day or I'll take an extra protein shake rather than a bar. That's just my personal opinion. I don't know of any bars personally that I would take at this point. So, I don't know if you have a comment on the bars before we move on to the plant-based question. 

Vanessa Spina: I don't. Unfortunately, no. I don't use them myself. 

Scott Emmens: So, the plant based is a better alternative? No, it's definitely not a better alternative. In order to get a complete protein from plants, you really have to blend a number of plants and typically you're going to see a pea protein mixed with a pumpkin seed. Maybe like a hemp protein might be mixed in with that, but you're going to have to blend a number of different sort of plant powders and then you have to take pretty large scoops of that powder to get equivalent amounts of a complete protein. So, a plant-based protein powder is not a better alternative for bioavailability, for completeness, and definitely not for leucine. It's got a very low leucine component compared to a whey protein. 

Vanessa Spina: Yes. I definitely agree with that. Now, one of our last questions here, Anna asks, "in a recent Instagram post, Joel Green talks about BCAAs or branch chain amino acids, restricting three certain amino acids valine, leucine, and isoleucine for longevity. Thoughts?" 

Scott Emmens: So, I think what we're getting at is maybe like the mTOR process that people are concerned about. The body sort of overregulating, but if all you're doing is branch chain amino acids, you're going to be missing the complete protein. So, I would not recommend anyone do just BCAAs. You want to have a complete protein with additional BCAAs, because again, that's going to be the thing that helps your muscle synthesis. And as I had said earlier, longevity is tied to so many. if you just Google right now the top five things that project longevity, you're going to see strength, speed, lean muscle mass, lower body muscle mass, lower body strength. All of those things that are related to muscle are going to be the things that are going to most predict your longevity. As you get into your 50s and 60s, even your 30s, that's going to be the thing that determines it. From my perspective, if it's just BCAAs, yes, you could be triggering something that's not positive. But we're not recommending that you take just BCAAs. If you're going to take BCAAs, it should be in combination with a whole protein. The only time I take BCAAs solo is right after my workout. But almost always within an hour, I'm eating an egg white or a complete egg protein or some animal protein along with it.

Vanessa Spina: So, [laughs] this is a question that we talk about endlessly on the Optimal Protein podcast. Is that tradeoff between longevity and health span? And I recently asked Dr. Ted Naman, when he was on the podcast, what he thought about this, and he said, there definitely is a little bit of a tradeoff when you look at sort of different animal models and even rodent research, that if you do restrict the protein, you can add some years to those rodents or animal lives. But what if you end up being really frail, but you're just living longer? Is that going to give you a high quality of life? And I really like the answer that he gave that he would rather be strong and fit. And your muscle is that bank account, that savings account for your longevity and quality of life. So, if you want to live well and live long, I think that the priority really should be having an optimal body composition, having a good amount of lean mass, as much muscle as you can put on and keep on because that'll enable you to do all the things that you love doing.

Whether it's doing sports that you love, the hobbies that you love, whether it's chasing after your grandchildren in the garden, like whatever it is that you want to do in your older years. You want to be able to have energy, have a strong metabolism, and have a lot of lean mass so that you can keep up with all the things that you want to do. And so, I definitely think that there's actually a little bit of value to restricting not just those branch chain amino acids, but all food here and there. I do a few seasonal fasts every year because I like to get some autophagy and just clean up any misfolded proteins and organelles and ramp up the autophagy, and the mitophagy but we do it every night. You know our bodies --as long as we're prioritizing sleep, our bodies will do a lot of those processes and sort of that cellular cleanup will occur. But you really want to make sure that you're not going to be frail in your older years, because those are the things that actually can do a lot of people in. Like I have relatives that it just took one sort of fall at the end and you break a hip or something and that's it. 

You really want to have strong bones. Like I said, bones are mineralized protein and adding a little bit of time at the end. If you're not strong, if you're not energetic, what's the point really? What is it going to do for you? So, I do think that the point is valid. If you restrict protein,-- not just branch chain amino acids, if you restrict protein from time to time, you will get some autophagy and you probably will be a little bit healthier, like metabolically, but doing it on a consistent basis, like over restricting protein, not getting your protein target as much as possible, not doing resistance training. I think that's really not going to set you up in the best way for those later years. Well, I had so much fun answering all of these questions with you today, Scott. We had so many brilliant questions, and I loved how going through each of them, I knew that these were questions that a lot of people have. And I hope that we're able to maybe clear know some of the mythology out there about the negative aspects of protein or protein supplementation.

And I really just want to underline the importance of protein intake for women. Throughout our lives we're often encouraged to restrict to eat salads, to avoid working out, avoid weights. When it turns out that these are all the things that make us stronger, physically stronger and also healthier and making sure to prioritize protein. Get enough protein in not only at every meal, but in every day to do resistance training, if possible, at least once or twice a week. If not three to four times a week. These are going to be the things that really help us as women to be strong and also look great and look toned, and look great in our jeans as well. And I think that these are concerns that a lot of women have. And I just think that we've had sort of some of the wrong messaging for a long time and I think that that's being corrected now with actual facts and I'm just seeing so many women out there who are embracing resistance training, an optimal protein intake, understanding the importance of protein. And this audience certainly [chuckles] seems to understand that message that protein is important. Prioritizing it is important. And of course, we're practicing time restricted eating, we're doing Intermittent fasting, we're doing different bio hacks and different approaches that will help us to also make sure that we have a long lifespan. But it's very important to have a long health span as well.

Scott Emmens: Yep. And that's know, I am so proud that MD Logic Health is partnering with Tone Protein to create this product because I think it is sorely needed on the market. And I feel really impassioned to create this with you. And I know you're incredibly passionate about this, in fact, that's what your whole podcast is about. And so, what makes me so excited is I know that-- just to give a I'd be remiss if I didn't say so. MD Logic goes through with their partners extensive pre ingredient testing. So, before the ingredients even get into our shop, we test every ingredient for impurities, mold, toxins, strength, identity, etc., and composition so it doesn't even come into our warehouse, it's quarantined. And we test those individual ingredients and I mean all of them before they get into the formula. 

Then we create the formula based on the science and then we retest that same formula for strength, impurity, toxins and composition again, which is called batch testing. And that product, when it leaves our facility and gets into your hands, we know we've tested every ingredient. And then after the processing has happened and all the ingredients are combined, we retest it to make sure that nothing has changed with those ingredients. And everything that is in there is supposed to be and there's nothing that's not and that is a GMP USA certified facility. And so, we're really thrilled that we're going to be able to create both a clean, pure product, but also one based in science. It's going to help all the members and people that are affiliated with IF podcast and the Optimal Protein podcast. 

Vanessa Spina: And it also tastes delicious. [laughs] So, you can enjoy your protein ice cream, your protein shakes, and also enjoy building muscle, improving your metabolic health. I'm so happy to be partnering with you as well, and I'm so excited to bring this product to my community, to my listeners, and now the listeners of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast as well. But thank you so much for taking the time to be here with us today, Scott, on the episode, it's always a treat whenever I get to listen to episodes that you do with Melanie. And when we get to talk about some of the sort of formulation aspects of supplementation and just sharing. I think today we really got to share a lot of interesting facts and knowledge about protein itself as a supplement. So, I really enjoyed having you on so much. 

Scott Emmens: Thank you so much. Thank you to the audience. These were great questions. I was happy to be here. 

Melanie Avalon: Thank you so much for listening to The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Please remember, everything we discussed on this show does not constitute medical advice, and no patient-doctor relationship is formed. If you enjoyed the show, please consider writing a review on iTunes. We couldn't do this without our amazing team, administration by Sharon Merriman, editing by Podcast Doctors, show notes and artwork by Brianna Joyner, transcripts by SpeechDocs, and original theme composed by Leland Cox and recomposed by Steve Saunders. See you next week.

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