As you go about planning your menu, one thing you will want to take into account is something called biological value (BV). Most people are quite good at staying on top of research so they can figure out which foods hold the most nutrients and which ones will help optimize health the best. Where many go wrong, however, is forgetting because if a food is nutritious, it does not mean it will be fully utilized by the body. That is where the biological value (BV) comes into play. Biological value refers to protein-rich foods and discusses how well these foods will be utilized after they are consumed.
Here is what you need to know…
Factors Impacting Biological Value. While BV is a static number, keep in mind there are some factors able to influence the natural biological value of the food you are eating.
These factors include:
- the frequency in which you consume your protein. Eating protein every few hours throughout the day can help increase the BV more than eating one or two large meals with a higher serving of protein in each meal. This is one reason to space your calories out into six mini meals rather than three large ones.
- the speed in which the amino acids hit your bloodstream. Generally speaking, the slower the amino acids hit your bloodstream, the better they will be absorbed and utilized, so do what you can to slow them down.
- The best way to do this is to ensure you consume some dietary fat with each protein serving as fat slows the rate of digestion.
- whether or not exercise has been performed. Exercise will naturally increase your ability to utilize the nutrients you feed your body immediately following a workout, so do whatever you can to eat a post-workout meal in within minutes of finishing.
A post-workout protein shake is a must for optimal results.
So as you can see, a biological value is not black and white. Factors do impact the value. Still, it can serve as a general guideline.
The Biological Value Of Foods You Are Eating. So this said, below is the listing for the BV of a variety of foods you have likely included in your menu. The higher the rating, the better the protein will be utilized:
- eggs (whole) – BV = 100
- eggs (whites) – BV = 88
- chicken/turkey – BV = 79
- fish – BV = 70
- lean beef – BV = 69
- cow’s milk – BV = 60
- whey protein isolate – BV = 159
- casein protein – BV = 77
- soy protein – BV = 74
Keep these values in mind as you plan out your meals. For optimal protein retention, choose foods with the highest biological value whenever possible.