Protein vs. Amino Acids

What is the difference between a protein and an amino acid?

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Another way of thinking of this is to compare amino acids to the beads of a necklace. Without the string to hold them together, they are just beads. The amino acids in formula are different from amino acids in food because they are already broken down. Because they are already separated from each other, they are absorbed quickly and all at once, giving the body a small amount of time to use them.

A protein is a chain of amino acids connected together. You can think of this like a beaded necklace. The beads (amino acids) are connected together by a string (bond), which forms a long chain (protein). Therefore, a protein is "intact" or "whole."

Proteins are connected together; free amino acids are not.

whole proteins are absorbed more slowly by the body

Why should you care about a natural whole protein?

Traditionally, individuals with PKU have supplemented their diet with synthetic amino acid metabolic formulas that provide your body with protein. But the human body was designed to eat whole proteins not free amino acids. Regular amino acid formulas are digested and processed quickly in the body. If your body is not ready for them, then the amino acids may be flushed out and not fully used. Your blood amino acid levels could vary. As a result, your body may not be getting all the nutrition that you need throughout the whole day.

Whole proteins, including GMP, are absorbed more slowly and therefore valuable nutrients are available to be used by your body over a longer period of time.

Whatever protein source you choose, GMP or amino acid formula, it is important to follow your diet closely for optimal growth and development. Research continues to shed light on what it takes to keep blood phe levels in an acceptable range. High blood phe levels cause different problems for different people. To maximize the effectiveness of your diet, we recommend you consult with your dietitian who can map out a plan for dietary success using a combination of metabolic formula and low protein food. Make a clinic appointment today and talk to your dietitian about how to achieve success with your diet.