The Amazing Protein Jigsaw Puzzle
February 10, 2021
Protein! It’s a vital macronutrient, a basic component of living cells and essential to building muscle mass. Because it is so essential, protein bars are the bar of choice for anyone needing a quick energy and body maintenance boost, even athletes.
But what is it, really? A great way to understand the complexities of protein is to look at it as a beautifully assembled jigsaw puzzle, because only when we start taking the pieces apart do we begin to understand what protein is really all about. Let’s see if we can do that carefully enough that we don’t knock any pieces on the floor and are able to put them back together again to see a complete picture.
The pieces of the protein puzzle are called amino acids. If you take an amino acid apart like its own puzzle, you discover that it is an organic compound composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sometimes sulfur. When proteins are digested and broken down, amino acids are left behind. The human body utilizes these amino acids to build and repair muscle, bones and other body tissue, and to make hormones and enzymes.
Amino acids fall into groups, much like the different colors in a jigsaw puzzle. The major groups are referred to as “essential” and “nonessential.” Proteins are composed of combinations of essential and nonessential amino acids.
Putting It Back Together
Now we can begin putting our jigsaw puzzle back together again, as amino acids are joined up and become proteins. Proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids are known as “complete proteins.” Some proteins are not complete, such as individual plant-based proteins. But such a puzzle can be completed—an incomplete protein can be made complete—by joining different amino acids from different sources, like other proteins.
Protein is sourced from two different groups, plant and animal, and both are used in protein bars. Plant-based, or vegan, protein is obtained from beans, peas, soy, nuts, seeds, hemp and rice. Animal protein comes from meat, poultry, milk, eggs and seafood. A major animal protein source is whey, the watery liquid separated from milk when cheese is made. Whey protein is its own valuable puzzle piece, considered the “gold standard” for bodybuilders and weightlifters, due to its particular amino acid balance.
Why Zing Doesn’t Use Soy
Vegan protein includes soy, and soy is widely used as a source of protein for many leading protein bars. Zing doesn’t use soy because, even though it is a complete protein, it comes with a few other pieces that we don’t want, and we’ll dive deeper into that in another blog post. And nearly all soy is from GMO soy crops—and GMO is like one of those puzzle pieces that you try and hammer into place but just won’t fit because it doesn’t really belong anywhere. It has no place in nature.
The Zing Bar Difference
The protein in our plant-based protein bars is a careful blend of brown rice and pea—two incomplete protein puzzle pieces which, brought together, make a complete protein like no single plant-based protein can do.
For those looking for whey protein—preferred by many weightlifters because it contains more branch chain amino acids—Zing has its best-selling Chocolate Peanut Butter bar.
If you like the peanut butter and chocolate combo but are looking for plant-based along with the power of whey protein, check out our Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip protein bar. It contains brown rice and pea protein, a combination that closely matches the whey protein amino acid profile.
Now we’ve got that puzzle completely assembled—and it looks amazingly like a Zing Bar!