The Deal with Protein

The Deal with Protein

People like to say all kinds of things about protein, like, you need to eat lots of it to build muscle, and lose weight. But dietary science is way more complicated than that! You can’t just eat a bunch of one thing to get buff or to be healthy. In fact, eating too much of anything can be really unhealthy. Proteins are a group of macromolecules that do a lot of different things, like helping with chemical reactions or immune responses, Giving our tissue structure and even sending messages between cells. And by understanding the chemical basics of protein, we can understand why we need to eat it to keep our bodies working, so let’s dig in! Chemically, proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids. These organic compounds have an amine group and a carboxylic acid group Plus some other atoms that make up a side chain. These strings fold up because of interactions between the amino acids, making stable 3D structures that are ready to do things inside our bodies. And some proteins, like hemoglobin which ferries oxygen around our bloodstream are made up of more than one of these strings interacting. Our bodies use 21 different amino acids to make thousands of distinct proteins, So it’s important we have all of these building blocks for ourselves to work with. Amino acids can be broken down to three types: Essential, Non-Essential and Conditionally Essential. Essential amino acids are the ones that our bodies need to function but have no way of making. So that’s where food comes in, like meat, beans, nuts and eggs. The digestive system breaks down the proteins in food; first you basically untwist, or denature the 3D structure of the protein with stomach acid. Then, you chop the chains into chunks of one or two amino acids, using these specialized proteins called Proteases. These amino acids are absorbed into your bloodstream and your small intestine, and sent around your body to be assembled into new proteins. So what about the non-essential amino acids? We still need them and we can get them from food too, but our bodies can make them out of other chemicals that are hanging around. For instance, one of the intermediates from the energy making citric acid cycle Alpha Ketoglutarate can undergo chemical reactions to make four amino acids: Glutamate, Glutamine, Proline, and Arginine. So for the most part your body’s got you covered, Except when it’s still developing, sick, or injured, and can’t naturally produce enough of some of these amino acids. We call them conditionally essential. For example, pre-term infants can be deficient in Arginine, which causes a variety of health problems in the heart, lungs, brain, and intestines. And scientists think their still developing bodies aren’t synthesizing enough of the proteins that help with those chemical reactions that make the Arginine. So now that we know the basics, what’s up with all of these protein powders and shakes and bars and pills? Why do people have these expectations that they will build muscle? When people talk about building muscle, they’re probably talking about skeletal muscle the type that’s attached to your bones and you can voluntary move around like your quads and biceps. Skeletal muscle is made up of bundles of muscle fibers, which are basically a membrane surrounding these units called Myofibrils. And myofibrils are essentially bundles of these long proteins called Actin, which are thinner, and Myosin, which are thicker. When you contract a muscle, these protein filaments slide past each other, with myosin driving the movement. So your muscle tissue is constantly making and breaking down proteins, and your muscles grow when there’s more protein synthesis than breakdown. Exercise is just a way to stimulate chemical pathways that cause more protein synthesis. When you work your muscles harder than usual, the extra tension on the muscle fibers can cause these microscopic tears, either damage to the cell membrane, or the connections between actin and myosin filaments. And this damage can signal for more protein synthesis. When your body repairs muscle fibers and creates new tissue, it makes more actin and myosin too. But it’s not clear if you need to damage your muscle for growth. If you eat protein when you work out, your body mostly just has more amino acids hanging around to synthesize proteins in your muscles. And your body doesn’t really store extra amino acids for later. They get converted into other organic compounds, that are used in metabolic pathways, like glucose or Acetyl-CoA, or they get broken down and eliminated in urine. So that’s pretty much the basics of protein. They’re super important for all kinds of bodily functions, and you make them from amino acids, which you can synthesize on your own or get them from your food. And you cannot expect protein supplements to have magic muscle building powers. They’re pretty much just another way to take in sustenance, and for your body to absorb amino acids. Thank you for watching this episode of SciShow, which was brought to you by our patrons on Patreon®. If you would like to help support this show, you can go to And if you want to keep getting smarter with us, don’t forget to go to and subscribe!


  • Ross says:

    Adorkable nerd talking about gainz. All the likes <3

  • Aaron Dean Henderson says:

    just came to see the anti-protein fanboys try and say they can buy chicken under 75 cents per serving…

  • misterpk92 says:

    oh great the nerd is going to tell me how to build muscle

  • sabrina run says:

    Like other biological macromolecules such as polysaccharides and nucleic acids, proteins are essential parts of organisms and participate in virtually every process within cells. Many proteins are enzymes that catalyse biochemical reactions and are vital to metabolism. Proteins also have structural or mechanical functions.

  • phillip lee says:

    Whats up people. 25% off your order when you spend 30 dollars for protein powder.

  • Chris Morgan says:

    I like Muscle Milk

  • Master Baiter says:

    Where do you find all this?

  • Evilpig says:

    Inb4 any Jacksfilms protein shake jokes.

  • MakaveliMCG says:

    Will more protein aid in a bigger pump for the the actin and myosin fibers for my erections??

  • Change of Tone says:

    But when do I add more protein? Nah, I call it BROTEIN

  • johan morales says:

    dmn, you talk really fast

  • Cameron Turton says:

    But bro, do you even lift?

  • JarOfPickles says:

    Then there's prions… Those scare me.

  • GoblinToxin says:

    Did someone say the word "vegan?" I feel like this video got preempted. No one pulled your cord…go on, Git! waves a broom at vegans menacingly

  • Oliver Dong says:

    Something something go vegan. Now where are the people arguing in my replies?

  • asliuf says:

    hey sci show, have any of you read "the china study" by t. colin campbell?

  • Miren Summers says:

    The funny thing is, when the amino acids are deaminated, the keto acid produced can be converted into glucose and stored as glycogen in your liver. So if you're eating a tonne of protein and not exercising after, it essentially just goes to waste, part of the molecule is pissed out and the other part becomes a storage molecule or adipose fat. The majority of people in developed societies consume more protein than is required for their body and level of activity so it's just ironic that people put so much emphasis on it in diet

  • nIMrOD888 says:

    Now do a video on CoQ10!

  • Silvia Fox says:

    If anyone is looking for a really easy to digest and gluten free protein you should try out hemp seeds which has more protein by weight and volume than any meat or fish or any other plant based protein you can find in nature! It also will give you a good combination of omega fatty acids which help your cells grow and divide properly.

  • Bashful Bibliophile says:

    Me me big boy

  • Dread Cthulhu says:

    "Too much of anything is bad for you."

    That's why I worry about all the corn products in our food. There's no way that can be good for us. Just look at the label on what you eat and count each thing made of corn, some of them multiple times. Ever wonder what effect it all might be having on your health? :

    High Fructose Corn Syrup
    Modified Food Starch
    Monosodium Glutamate
    Vegetable Oil

  • Orbinado says:

    BRO TIP: If it sounds too hard, it's not bro science, it's real science. And that's for nerds, not gnars.

  • KINGatLIFE says:

    Hence the name "Supplements" They supplement not replace your food.

  • Shadow Heart says:

    can you slow down a littbit more…. so i dont need to rewatch it … dagit you talk too fast

  • Ben H.G says:

    Just to clarify on the practical application of protein in muscle building:
    Protein is what is considered a macro nutrient, alongside carbs and fats. All three macros are important for muscle building and are needed TOGETHER to achieve growth.
    The subject of the ratio between carbs, proteins and fats in your diet is a hot topic in the bodybuilding community and can look quite daunting to someone just starting out.
    A great source for anything fitness and diet related is Bodybuilding(dot)com. You can find a lot of credible, scientific supported information for a lot of subjects. Go learn about the caloric amount your body needs when you're working out, the ratio of macros in your diet to support your fitness goal and about each macro itself and the different types you need to get in your diet.

    Hope that helps someone.

  • Senator says:

    1-3gram of protein to every kg of your body so if you are 70kg and eat like 1,5gram to every kg so you need 105gram of protein.

  • thel vadamee says:

    make the kids watch this in class I like it no political BS just science

  • Ryan Johnson says:

    Mac'n'cheese 3 times a day is the only bet I've got. #poorprogrammer

  • Boris Selbstadler says:

    Is Hank's shirt black and blue or gold and white?

  • Leslie Viljoen says:

    I'm sad you didn't mention that there's protein in every plant since a common misconception is that protein is the same as meat!

  • LulzRoyce says:

    People like to say all kinds of things about protein… ALLLL KIIIIINNNDDSSSSS.

  • bu115hit says:

    Scishow you didn't say why people take supplements of protein.
    It's because it's easier to supply body with spoon of protein powder rather than having to eat another breast of chicken

  • Salvatore Escoti says:

    actually we just have to take aminoacids our body makes the actual protein of them.

  • Orrelion says:

    So how much protein is needed to build as much muscle as possible?

  • Russ Elliott says:

    Is his shirt white and gold?

  • Mathieu BTB says:

    To complicated

  • Elizabeth Ramos says:

    Ok…. so Amino Acids just do……..everything??? Like, what is the difference between regular Amino Acids and these Branched-Chain Amino Acids body builders and other athletes take as supplements? And what EXACTLY do they do?

  • Mikayla Eckel Cifrese says:

    So does it matter whether you eat protein or carb rich food before a workout? Is it best to have both? Or should you eat one first and the other after? There's so much conflicting info online, most of it not backed up by studies or even known biology, so I don't know what to believe.

  • Allen Lisowe says:

    Needs more protien

  • Nicolai says:

    Bear Grylls doens't approve this video

  • Sehan Munir says:


  • Gabriel Silva says:

    No potassium ( from vegs) = no gains

  • whaddyamean99 says:

    My professor told us that excess protein "is absolutely detrimental" to our health and that we really don't need to consume much protein in our diet. He claims that protein bars and shakes are pretty unnecessary

  • Justin Booby says:

    What colour is his shirt?

  • Thomas Yorkshire IV says:

    i masterbite to the side of yogo

  • Anal0Avenger says:

    Nice video and a lot of stuff for 4 minutes.
    And you, vegans, are male feminists. Please be outraged.

  • Tejas Sarade says:

    Don't care about proteins, tell me where you bought that shirt.

  • Todd Starbuck says:

    Can you do The Deal with Grape Nuts?
    They're not grapes. They're not nuts.
    What's the deal with that?

  • Nes Ra says:

    NO Flake, you are just ANOTHERWHEY

  • SKPjoe Coursegold says:

    beans for the win.

  • Ra’Ziel Grey says:

    How can one alleviate the putrid protein farts from consumption?

  • voltaspeeder17 says:

    Wanna hear a joke people? 2 words. VEGAN GAINS. Don't be stupid and eat enough quality protein. It doesn't need to be meat if you don't wanna too. Eggs and whey (and fish if you eat them) are superb protein sources for vegetarians and are good for your body. Don't get brainwashed by so called "vegan food police". I had been vegetarian for years and you won't believe me how much healthier i am eating quality whole foods – animal souces included.

  • Honorary Mancunian says:

    Why do you keep talking about our Janine?

  • You're Not Down says:

  • Kenneth says:

    Bro, if you really wanna get shredded take anabolic whey brotein

  • Scourge93 says:

    dear vegans…

    no one cares.
    please stop.

  • Diego Mara says:

    forgive me if you've made a video on it, but could you explain ketosis? I've heard a ton about it and understand the basics but not the science. thank you, I really enjoy this channel:)

  • Veg Ahimsa says:

    No mention of excess protein, negative health consequences, and even death?

  • K A says:

    you cant gain if u dont eat gainz

  • Agent Tomcat says:

    I tease professionally, so does that make me a protease?

  • Benjamin MacDonald says:

    So, if you get your RDA of every amino acid from your diet but don't actually eat any protein (which are just bundles of amino acids and nitrogen that we break down into their constituent amino acids) do you actually need protein? Probably a stupid question, but one I've always wondered and never could find the answer too.

  • William Sullivan says:

    yOu'Re VeGaN??? bUt HoW dO yOu GeT yOuR pRoTeInsssSSS????

  • haruno21 says:

    no one expects magic…. you also gotta go and excersise and all that ypu know

  • Herbert Miller says:

    People I know who workout and take these protein supplements claim that it makes the protein available for your body to use.
    Explaining to them that your body already makes all the protein you eat available for use does no good the powder has magical properties that make it's special and I am the one that don't doesn't understand.

  • Vienna Jordan says:

    I have inattentive ADD and I've heard that a high-protein diet can help. Has anybody tried that?

  • P H says:

    Athletes that workout 4-5 times a week with a variety of intensity need more protein than the average person. In fact it's often the case that athletes get less protein in their diet than what they need. Whey protein help serve this purpose, for athletes or individuals that exercise and have physically demanding jobs. It doesn't mean that an individual that is working out with the same frequency and intensity as an athlete doesn't need more protein as well. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is difficult in itself but with exercise even more challenging. More protein does not mean less fruits, vegetables, monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fat, and other vitamins and minerals. It's important to consult your doctor about working out and changing your diet. Athletes and individuals with physically demanding jobs even more. Be proactive about your diet learn about food labels, product claims, calculate your BMI and body fat. Don't get discouraged about the results! Take small steps to make healthy food choices eat lean meats, balance eating complex carbohydrates, try a various types of vegetables, and eat healthy fats. It's REALLY hard to maintain a healthy diet, it's hard for athletes too, remember that and don't give up.

  • Alchemy Handbook says:

    Nice deal

  • Alchemy Handbook says:

    Nice deal

  • gaurav joshi says:

    One of the best informative video on this subject i found , TY

  • Synchronizor says:

    I love these nutritional videos. Cutting through all the food/diet BS we wade through on a daily basis with real science. Please make one about cholesterol, since I've never really been able to figure it out; and another that looks at simple sugars in more detail. I get so sick about people going on about HFCS like it's poisonous evil Satan-juice, rather than just an inexpensive blend of normal common sugars.

  • David Lippincott says:

    What proteins are in the protein supplements?

  • Max Power says:

    You definitely need to damage the muscle tissue to build significant muscle mass. No bodybuilder in the entire world would say otherwise. Why would you say this is "not certain", that's just absurd

  • Kalasha001 says:

    dont listen to this guy, drink at least your bodyweight of protein shakes. GET SWOL!

  • aleratz says:

    Proteins are a toxic byproduct of the patriarchy!#!111!!

  • Thomas Freestone says:

    Great presentation but perhaps somebody who has muscles should give it… Just saying!

  • Oscar Garcia says:

    im not taking supplement advice from dude. he looks like he's never set foot in a gym

  • Noodlepony says:

    It’s all about sarms

  • Bogmire777 says:

    Do you even support the 1970 aborted Italian Neo-Fascist coup bro?

  • John's Lair says:

    You don't need meat to get any nutrition because you can get a lot more from grains and legumes ,soy beans , lentils so on …..

  • Baran Orak says:

    If only Muscle Hank existed at this time

  • iLLeag7e says:

    Was hoping Muscle Hank would be special guest 🙁

  • WD says:

    Where’s Muscle Hank at?

  • Dtomper says:

    Thanks for those informations Sir !

  • Princess YuBeace says:

    "Build muscle and lose weight." But… muscles are heavier than fat…

  • Princess YuBeace says:

    > has a digestive disorder that prevents me from eating peanuts or beans
    > but I can digest meat and eggs (most of them anyway)
    > basically I cannot become vegan without running out of essential proteins. 🙁

    I also have serious fatigue problems and a possibly malfunctioning metabolism, so who knows how many of these optional proteins are actually essential to me. I'm already getting amino-acid supplements from my doctor just in case lol

  • sanjuansteve says:

    I used to eat meat and take protein supplements. Now I'm a mostly vegan vegetarian, don't take any supplements and feel like I'm missing nothing. 😀

  • Miguel says:

    Why is small hank in this video? WE WANT MUSCLE HANK

  • President Starscream says:

    what about energon?

  • ReignOfKnowledge says:

    Can having these "muscle building" protein shakes on a regular basis without exercising lead to obesity? Or weight gain in fat and not weight gain in muscle weight?

  • Dirty Wash says:

    I eat 18 eggs a day. Yay

  • Jacks-Over says:

    Proten Powders do have magical muscle building powers. At least the ones with testosterone do.

  • Sydney Tonkin says:

    Where was this video two weeks ago when I had to read like 40 pages on muscle in my textbook

  • xinic5 says:

    I love protein. Give me all the proteins….

  • the pandaman says:

    You looks like the guy from "Crash course" channel

  • Paul Tovar says:

    Where is Muscle Hank??

  • PK88 says:

    0:04 Deadass thought he was gonna say "People like to say All Kind Of Gains"

  • Brian Wood says:

    That shirt

  • Miss Lucky says:

    Watch game changers

  • SXT Wellness Coaching says:

    Great video and a massive fan from the guys from crash course!

  • Nelson Valdez says:

    Weres waldo

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