Is Heating Your Protein Killing Its Benefits?

Protein is one of the most important macronutrients you can put into your body. But, is a common method of food preparation ruining the quality — and the benefits — of protein?

In this episode of That’s Healthy, Right? host Adam Bornstein sets the record straight about what really happens when you heat up protein and it becomes “denatured.” We discuss the nutrient consideration, if it affects muscle building and fat loss, how the amino acids are changed, and if you need to worry about the protein in common foods when they are heated (was Rocky right to drink raw eggs instead of cooking them?).

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Denaturation — Science Daily

The Chemistry of Protein Denaturation — Chemical Reviews

Denaturation (Proteins) — The Encyclopedia of Genetics 

Denaturation of whey proteins as a function of heat, pH and protein concentration — International Dairy Journal

Impact of controlled shearing on solubility and heat stability of pea protein isolate dispersed in solutions with adjusted ionic strength — Food Research International

What Will a Protein Shake Really Do to Your Body? – That’s Healthy, Right? Podcast

The Protein Guide: How Much Protein Do You Need? – Born Fitness


Adam Bornstein: Have you heard the one about how heating up protein kills it and makes it inaccessible for your muscles to use?

If you have, you’re probably not alone because the idea of denatured protein has been around for quite a while, and that is if you heat up a protein, you essentially change the molecule and you no longer get the same benefits that you would from protein, everything from gaining muscle to speeding recovery, to helping it with your hair, skin, and nails.

Here’s what’s really going on. Denaturation is a real thing, but when a protein becomes denatured, the shape is changing.

But from a chemical standpoint, it’s not enough to break the bonds that hold the protein together, and those bonds are the amino acids, and the amino acids are what give protein all of its magical powers. 

So the shape will change, but the quality of the amino acid not. So if you like heating up your protein, or you like dumping a scoop of protein powder in some oatmeal, or if you want to cook your eggs, you know, like a normal person and not fear that cooking them will ruin them, go right ahead because heating the protein does not ruin their quality.