Do Protein Supplements Need to be Hydrolyzed?

Have you ever experienced gas, bloating, or other unpleasant digestive symptoms after taking a protein supplement?


These symptoms are most often caused by undigested protein – protein that wasn’t fully broken down into its amino acid building blocks. There are 2 common reasons for these: the body either doesn’t produce the necessary enzymes or enough stomach acid. As undigested protein moves through the digestive tract it is fermented by the bacteria in our small and large intestines. This process is known as putrefaction and is just as unpleasant as it sounds. Once protein gets to this stage, it’s no longer beneficial to us. Some studies suggest that up to 12 grams of protein may go undigested and in the case of protein powder supplements, that’s just wasted money!

Our digestive process depends on many things with enzymes being one of the key players. Sometimes these enzymes are delivered with our foods as we eat them, but most must be produced by our bodies or supplied through supplements.

When it comes to protein, the aim is to hydrolyze it during digestion. This process is done by specific enzymes such as protease that split the connective bonds between individual amino acids allowing them to be easily absorbed through the intestines, dispersed throughout the body, and reassembled as needed. For people looking for a post-workout, muscle building boost or those with impaired digestion (especially due to having a shortened small intestine) it’s essential that protein is hydrolyzed within 90 minutes or less following consumption for maximum amino acid intake.

Clinical studies have shown this 90 minute window to account for the average transit time from the stomach through the small intestine where digestion and nutrient absorption occurs. Once in the large intestine, any undigested protein will begin to putrefy and cause excess gas, bloating, and other potentially toxic by-products.

Enzyme manufacturers have worked hard to help maximize the nutritional value of our foods and when it comes to protein, we found ProHydrolase to be the most effective and that’s why we include it in our protein supplements. ProHydrolase enzymes have been tested in numerous in vitro studies and 2 separate human clinical studies showing its ability to quickly break down protein, increase amino acid levels in blood by 20%, decrease C-reactive protein levels, and decrease the stomach discomfort common with protein supplements. We even conducted a third-party study on our veggie and whey protein powders to see how well the proteins are hydrolyzed (broken down into individual amino acids). The study compared an ounce of protein with ProHydrolase® and an ounce of protein without enzymes as a control. The results were astonishing!

Within 10 minutes nearly 100% of the ProHydrolase® protein samples had been hydrolyzed, while the control sample had barely begun to break down after a full 90 minutes!




Fig. 1 – Densitometry Data for Protein Degradation


Fig. 2 & 3- FInished Gel with 90 minutes of enzyme activity; protein hydrolyzed by 10 minutes.

* -Protein in buffer solution with no enzymes for 90 minutes, for reference.


Researchers Comments


“It is interesting to note the group who conducted the study also conduct many of these types of studies on many different protein powder supplements.  They supported the fact that protein powders without enzymes are not hydrolyzed well and some better than others depending on the enzyme blend used.

They were also surprised at how well Mother Earth Labs‘ Replenish Whey and Veggie protein products performed and further stated the finding on the activity of the special protease and peptidase enzyme group were remarkable compared to other enzyme blends they have studied.”


Importance of Digestive Enzymes


The addition of enzymes to help digest protein in supplements definitely has its advantages, but not all enzyme groups are created equal.  It is very important to have the right type and variety of enzymes included. At Mother Earth Labs we are always looking for the best of the best, so we chose this blend based on the variety and characteristics of proteins and their proven efficacy in hydrolyzing specific types of proteins.


Multiple Benefits


Our enzyme group is not only effective in breaking down proteins, but also helps reduce gastric distress, digestive discomfort, and the occurrence of protein putrefaction within the gut.  This comprehensive digestive enzyme complex includes:

  • Amylase 3500 DU
  • Protease 2 AP
  • Invertase 400 SU
  • Protease 21000 HUT
  • Glucoamylase 5 AGU
  • Diastase 1500 DP
  • Protease 50 SAPU
  • Lipase 500 FIP


With the right blend of enzymes, you can feed your muscles, support healthy hormone balance, and much more while also saying “goodbye” to the bloat, cramps, and embarrassing gas that comes with protein powder supplements. 

ProHydrolase® is included in our Grass-Fed Whey and organic Veggie Fusion protein powders. Order one today and experience the difference for yourself with our 30-day guarantee!

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