The Search For The Perfect Protein (The Surprising Truth About A Little-Known Supernutrient For Weight Loss, Mood, Fatigue, Insomnia, and More)

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In today's podcast episode, we unpack all things amino acids…

Five months after beginning the amino acids, I achieved a personal best at Ironman Canada, in Penticton B.C. In my new and improved physical state, I began to wonder if my vegetarian, protein-deficient diet was the reason why the anti-cancer enzymes scorched my stomach. Could it be that the mucous lining in my stomach was inadequate, and that had also held back the healing of my hamstring? I very badly wanted to find out, so I decided to try the enzymes again. I followed the full protocol, twelve tablets, six times per day for three consecutive days. I had no adverse reactions, and my stomach was fine. I learned that because my overall body protein levels had normalized, the mucous layer in my stomach was better able to handle the enzymes. What a revelation!”

Thus begins the new book “The Search For The Perfect Protein,” by 42-time Ironman triathlete Dr. David Minkoff.

Dr. Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then completed both a pediatric residency and fellowship in infectious disease at the University of California at San Diego.

He worked at the University of California and Children's Hospitals in San Diego as an attending physician in infectious disease while conducting original research on Ribavirin, a broad spectrum anti-viral agent to fight disease. He also co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine.

In 1995, his wife became ill, and her physicians couldn't find what was wrong. Not accepting their “no hope” conclusion, Dr. Minkoff went on a search to help her that led him out of emergency medicine into complementary and alternative medicine to find the answers. In the process, he gained expertise in biological medicine, heavy metal detoxification, anti-aging medicine, hormone replacement therapy, functional medicine, energy medicine, neural and prolotherapy, homeopathy, and optimum nutrition. He studied under the masters in each of these disciplines until he became an expert in his own right.

The answers he found were soon in demand when others learned of his wife’s return to good health. In response to this, he and his wife, Sue Minkoff RN established Lifeworks Wellness Center in 1997 and it quickly became one of the most comprehensive complementary and alternative medicine clinics in the U.S.

In my conversation with Dr. Minkoff, you'll learn…

-Dr. Minkoff's history with amino acids and why he wrote his new book…6:45

-About CHYMO, the thyroid and its interaction with amino acids…22:20

  • Chymotrypsin: an enzyme made in the pancreas that is necessary to digest food
  • Actin: the main protein in muscle;
    • Contains 5800 different amino acids in one chain of the muscle fiber
    • Must be broken down into individual amino acids in order for the intestine to absorb it
  • Vicious cycle: amino acids not enough to make chymotrypsin; can't digest protein properly; amino acids can't get into the bloodstream
  • Many people are iodine deficient
  • These are common issues

-The link between amino acids/proteins and the gut and digestion…31:55

  • The inner lining of the intestine is one cell thick
  • Leaky barrier membranes: your body gets exposed to foreign proteins
  • 70-80% of your immune system is behind the membrane barrier  (Peyer's patches, gut-associated lymphoid tissue)
  • Inner lining of the gut has a high turnover (every 3-5 days) due to the exposure, wear and tear, etc.
    • Leakage occurs when these membranes are not replaced
    • Lack of amino acids slows the turnover rate (10-12 days)
  • Endurance training compromises the immune system due to the pounding on the body

-How amino acids are used by riders in the Tour de France bike race…39:00

  • Podcast: How Tour de France racers make it through the grueling stages w/ Dr. Jeff Spencer
  • Dr. Spencer is a former Olympic biker who worked for the U.S. team during the Lance Armstrong era
  • Minkoff gave Spencer amino acids to give to the riders during one of the races:
    • After 21 days, athletes are broken down, even with optimal nutrition, medical care, etc.
    • Athletes who used amino acids didn't break down; performance improved
  • Athletes and coaches overwork and don't allow adequate recovery time; results in a broken immune system

-Why not derive amino acids from whey protein, spirulina, and other sources?…44:00

  • The amount of protein listed on the package doesn't translate to amounts in other sources (fish, steak, spirulina, etc.)
  • Medication to stop stomach acid stops protein digestion
  • Pepsin enzyme which digests protein requires a very acid stomach
  • Cells have two pathways with which to deal with the amino acids:
    • Anabolic: Turns amino acids into the proteins the cell is responsible for (hair, liver, muscle, etc.)
    • Catabolic: Nitrogen becomes a waste product; chain leftover looks like a carbohydrate
  • Ratio of essential amino acids in Kion Aminos is very specific; the body will use amino acids into making protein
  • Nitrogen utilization study
  • Spirulina is good for some things; amino acids is not one of them
  • Adding non-essential amino acids decreases the efficacy of the product
  • Collagen has 50% non-essential amino acids

-The chemical configurations of amino acids…1:02:40

  • The body can only use the “left-handed” configuration (L form)
  • Most amino acid forms have very low amino acid utilization because they include the R form

-How amino acids work with fasting and/or ketosis…1:05:30

  • You can take amino acids and not spike blood glucose levels
  • Excessive proteins will kick you out of fasting is a myth
  • Amino acids work very well for fasting in an anabolic state
  • 10 g of amino acids is 4 calories (less than a stick of gum)

-How safe amino acids are for children…1:17:00

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Kion Essential Amino Acids

Dr. Minkoff's new book “The Search for the Perfect Protein”

Pancreatic enzyme therapy for cancer

ION Profile with 40 Amino Acids – Genova Kit

Diagnostechs Stool Panel

Sanesco Labs HPA Profile

BioSteel BCAAs

– Podcast: Episode #168: How To Banish Chronic Pain Forever.

– Podcast: Why You’ve Been Lied To About Cancer And What You Can Do About It.

– Podcast: Amino Acids, BCAAs, EAAs, Ketosis, Bonking & More With 41 Time Ironman Triathlete Dr. David Minkoff.

– Podcast: How Tour de France racers make it through the grueling stages w/ Dr. Jeff Spencer

Episode Sponsors:

Kion Aminos: Building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more. Get 10% off your order of Kion Aminos, and everything at the Kion site when you use discount code: BGF10 at checkout.

Joovv: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. Order using my link and receive a nice bonus gift with your order!

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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Dr. Minkoff or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

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48 thoughts on “The Search For The Perfect Protein (The Surprising Truth About A Little-Known Supernutrient For Weight Loss, Mood, Fatigue, Insomnia, and More)

  1. Jeff says:

    Curious how the Kion Aminos, and other protein sources w/ varying biovailability and nitrogen production contribute to the 0.55-0.7 g protein per lb body weight calculation. Is the per pound protein intake based on average protein source? Lets say my target intake is 100g of protein. Should that be 100g of average protein? 100g of EAA’s? Other?

  2. James says:

    You guys brielfy went over the benefits of collagen, however maybe I don’t understand correctly but not being a complete eaa profile isn’t it counterproductive? In otherwords, if bcaa’s are potentially problematic, why wouldn’t collagen be any different?

  3. Jennifer Melvin says:

    Hi, just got done listening this podcast and it was great thank you! Couple of questions….I’m taking 5 capsules (5grams) of the KION EAA’s 30 min before my workouts and but BCAA’s in my water when I workout, do I still need the BCAA’s?? Also in the podcast you mention that you take up to 20g a day. Should I be taking that much as well? I also take a scoop of collagen peptides each night with my dinner, but would it be more beneficial for me to take another serving of KION EEA’s. My dinner is mostly fats and proteins? Thank you so much or your help and guidance!

    1. The FAQ section here should answer most of your questions! If you have more, I would shoot an email to [email protected] The short answer to your first question though, no, BCAAs would not be necessary as Kion Aminos contains the 3 BCAAs. As for how much you take, it really depends a lot on you and what your goals are. If you're interested in hiring a coach to help you with all of this, check out Hope this helps!

  4. Luckie Sigouin says:

    Good day Ben,
    How does a combination of EAA’s such has kion amino compare to hemp (seed or protein)? I have heard from some sources that it could have an NNU (Net Nitrogen Utilization) of 90%. I am currently working on a project to determine if hemp would be a viable source of high quality protein for vegans or everyone. I have spoken to some scientist and that is where I got the 90%, but I can’t seem to find a study to back that up. Would you know anything on that topic?
    Thank you

  5. Michael says:

    I have long suspected that Kion Aminos are Perfect Aminos rebranded and towards the end of the podcast you slipped up and said Perfect Aminos. Was I right all along or is there a difference between the two?

    1. Austin says:

      Interested in this too

  6. Terry says:

    Dear Ben,
    Thank you for another amzing podcast!
    You and Dr. Minkoff briefly touch on pancreatic cancer and the success of enzyme therapy. You seemed curious to learn more so I thought I’d share this: Dr. Nicholas Gonzales (who died a few years ago) successfully treated MANY late stage cancer patients with this therapy. There is a great interview with him by Dr. Mercola on his site ( and Dr. Kelly Brogan has published some parts of his work after his passing. He also was a presenter at the Weston Price Foundation conference about 9 years ago when I attended. I think you would be interested in his approach, which includes finding the diet that is right for your “type”, which is based on your autonomic nervous system.

  7. Kenneth says:

    Ben, thanks for all that you do, just want to say that this podcast was f’n dope. I’ve really been waiting for an episode that delves into the biomechanics of EAA’s and proteins in general. I do have a strict budget and I am willing to give these a shot, however I do want to be in a surplus as I am trying to gain. I was wondering if you had other brands/sources of protein you’d recommend that are quality yet inexpensive, to throw on top of an eaa regimen.

    Prior I was taking a combo of True Nutrition’s pea protein (would have done their cold pressed whey, but unfortunately it’s not their “grass fed/pasture raised” supply), as well as AN’s Collagen Bone Broth.. but maybe the collagen shouldn’t be on top of my priority. Do you think the pea protein is a good secondary source of protein, otherwise what else would you recommend next in line to EAAs?

    1. I don't do a ton of additional protein, but a really clean pea protein would be a great option (I like Organifi's)… Ancient Nutrition is great too. I especially like it to make cool, healthy desserts. Personally, I like to do about 2g of Thorne Creatine about an hour before the workout and another 2g dose an hour or two post-workout. One thing to consider is that the Aminos are formulated to a specific ratio that optimizes utilization; therefore it is best to avoid taking them directly with another significant source of protein… However, they absorb in less than 30 min, so just give it a little time to absorb fully.

      1. Kenneth says:

        Thanks, appreciate it! I try to split 5g of creatine up throughout the day, but unfortunately I can’t do much outside of a black coffee as a “pre-workout”, including food. Not sure why but my stomach’s pretty picky when it comes to things prior to a workout, otherwise I get pretty nauseous. Last time I tried an N.O. beforehand I had to puke mid-session. I hope the EAA’s don’t give me the same results, would like the use them at their adequate timing.

  8. Stuart says:

    Hi Ben, is it still effective to take EAAs with 9 essential amino acids or does histadine reduce the effectiveness ? Thanks

  9. Chris Barber says:

    Hi, excellent podcast. I just ordered Kion Aminos. It sounds like using the aminos should replace some of my daily protein intake? I.e., if my macros have a certain number of grams of protein I’m eating a day, how much of this would be replaced by a serving of Kion Aminos? Thanks, Chris

    1. It's really a bit of a rabbit hole as different protein sources have different levels of absorption/amino acid utilization. For instance, Kion Aminos have approximately 99% absorption, whereas eating an egg is around 50% and whey protein is less than 20%. This means 5g of Aminos would effectively be like 30g of whey protein or 10g of protein from eggs.

      1. Todd says:

        So if we are aiming, for example, for 30g of protein per meal, does that mean 30g of “utilized” protein OR 30g of protein as listed in the nutrition facts, regardless of the utilization percentage?

        1. Typically it is looked at from a perspective of total protein (listed on the nutrition label) as most aren't aware that different forms actually have different utilization.

  10. Tom says:


    Great show!

    I have been dabbling with the idea of trying out Kion Aminos for a while and after listening I am ordering right away.

    I am currently re-strengthening a shoulder I had surgery on, and training for my first marathon.

    I have been planning on doing a workout plan with creatine monohydrate for performance and strength. But after listening, it sounds like taking additional amino acids such as the L-arginine, Glycine, and additional L-methionine in creatine would be counterproductive. Is this the case? Or would it be to my benefit as long as I take the creatine at least 20 mins after I take the aminos, similar to other protein or fat?


    1. Personally I do about 2g of creatine about 1-1.5 hrs before training and Aminos about 30 min before since they absorb so quickly.

  11. robin says:

    Do these aminos active mTor? If so, wouldn’t one want to take them only around workouts, instead of everyday?

  12. Albert says:

    Hello, I am just getting started into this podcast its very ineresting like almost everyone of your podcasts.

    Question about Chymotrypsin. How would your body produce this if your a type 1 diabetic and your pancreas no longer functions?

    1. Sean MacKenzie says:

      As far as I have learned type one only impairs the production of insulin and its related carbohydrate digesting enzymes like amylase. This means (again based on my knowledge) you should be fine producing chymotrypsin, trypsin, and other lipases/proteases. I would be more concerned about if amino acids cause diabetic ketoacidosis in your case. I want to end this with a disclaimer that I’m not a doctor or certified professional.

  13. trevor truax says:

    Hi Ben,

    Much gratitude for sharing your passion and knowledge.

    I’m an avid mountain biker and have gone through a few jars of Kion aminos as well as a couple of other brands.

    Question is these guys always give me room clearing gas :( What’s up with my system? Other than the gas all is good…not bloating or anything else. Am I enzyme deficient?

    Thx! Trevor

    1. I am not a doctor and this should not be misconstrued as medical advice. This isn't a typical response and could be indicative of underlying GI issues. Enzymes shouldn't be a huge issue, as the Aminos are already broken down to a very absorbable state. It could be a good idea to get some testing with a good functional medicine doctor.

  14. Scott says:

    Do you have any more information on the enzyme therapy that requires taking 12 enzymes,
    3x per day for 3 days? He mentioned looking for reactions. What kind of reactions would one be looking for?

  15. Manuela says:

    Love it, and so weirdly timely for me! Though I wish it also included a more thorough comparative discussion of food sources:

    This morning I was determined to go research ”best protein sources”, and there was Ben’s podcast.. changing lives on a regular Friday morning :)

    But here’s a dilemma … I’m the 5th day of a water-only fast & just realized I ran out of aminos to break it!!

    QUESTION: So what GROCERY STORE FOODS (including hemp powder) would you use over 2 days to break the fast, if you were stranded somewhere with nothing else to use?

    Greatly appreciative of all you do!

    1. Bone broth or collagen wouldn't be a bad option. Supporting with digestive enzymes can also be very helpful when you do move back into whole foods.

  16. Tetsuo says:

    Why is glutamine not in the kion amines? And what is glutamine good for?

    1. It isn't an EAA, but it can have good benefits for the intestinal wall/gut health.

  17. Monte Schmeiser says:

    Ben, thanks for the podcast. I learned a lot. The information shared cleared up so much for me regarding proteins and amino acids. Question for you, our family uses Kion Aminos religiously on a daily basis. We are all very active in sports and fitness. However, we also use collagen on a daily basis from Ancient Nutrition after listening to your podcast with Dr. Axe. Both can get quite expensive. So my question is, after listening to the podcast, am I better off increasing my Kion Aminos and letting go of the collagen? From what Dr. Minkoff is saying, it sounds like at the end of the day, that might be the better bang for the buck.

    Thanks again for all you do.

    1. I'm not opposed to any combination of the two (e.g. shoot for a total of 40g collagen per day or half that in aminos (20g aminos)) so you could do 20g collagen, 10g aminos OR 10g collagen, 15g aminos, etc.

      1. Bob says:

        eech. I would like to point out that @ 20g of Kion aminos per day, that would render the $44 bottle into a one week supply. This is a solution only for the rich and famous.

    2. Jordan C says:

      Dr Minkoff on Collagen –

    3. I like Ancient Nutrition a lot (especially for making desserts), but from a pure "bang for the buck" standpoint Aminos would be my choice.

  18. Brian P Litecky says:

    What time in the podcast does Ben talk about Sleeping and amino acids also with helping Anxiety.
    Thanks Brian

  19. William says:

    How do you increase your chymptrypsin though?

  20. John says:

    I wonder if some of the animos or amino combinations, or just food sources might enhance nitrogen turnover, that is the aminos enter into cells but push old aminos out of the cell.

  21. jennifer says:

    Your link to the ION Panel is incorrect. You have linked to a Genova stool test.

    Please correct.


    1. Check it out now.

  22. Michael says:

    One more. I’m pretty sure the FDA and most other sources believe there to be 9 essential aminos. Every list I’ve seen includes Histidine. e.g.:…

    Why doesn’t Kion or Dr. Minkoff’s brand include histidine?


    1. Levels of Histidine will rise naturally when the other 8 EAAs are present.

  23. michael says:

    Hi, quick question about collagen and bone broth.

    On the podcast Dr. Minkoff says collagen has 50% non-essential aminos. Does that mean it’s about 50% less protein utilization than, e.g., Kion Aminos?

    Also, is Bone Broth similar to collagen (50% non essential, lower protein utilization), or is it a better and closer to straight aminos?


  24. Ryan Chadek says:

    Thanks so much for this podcast! I have a couple questions. First, a little background:

    I’ve been doing a daily intermittent fast – typically 15 or 16 hours – since January and have seen some great results. Similar to Ben’s protocol, once a month I’ll do a longer fast – approx 21-22 hours.

    I also was in the inaugural class of Mindvalley’s “Longevity Blueprint” led by Ben at the start of this year and have been following that protocol as well. So, I’m not an extreme athlete – just looking to optimize my health and longevity.

    Combining these two strategies, I’ve been able to go from 14% BF to around 12% BF – although I’d like to eventually get down below 10.

    Recently, I wanted to start focusing on building muscle which, as an ectomorph, has never been easy for me.

    In Episode #397, Ben talks about supplementing with protein before bed as a way to build muscle during sleep.

    After hearing this, I bought some Kion Aminos because I felt they would allow me to build muscle while sleeping without breaking my fast.

    My questions are:

    1.) Should I be doing my IF every day if I’m trying to build muscle? I’ve heard Thomas DeLauer say that you shouldn’t fast every day because it can slow down your metabolism in the long run.

    2.) Should I only fast a few days out of the week? Or do a daily fast but keep it closer to 12 hours rather than 16?

    3.) What is the most effective protocol when it comes to fasting and building muscle?

    Thanks in advance!

  25. Kerry Hulett says:

    10 grams of protein = 4 calories? I think this should be 40 calories. 45 would be more accurate.

    1. Lazar Lazarovski says:

      Hi Kerry. The comment was 10 grams of EAA’s is = to 4 calories, not 10g of protein. Hope that helps.

      1. Bob says:

        protein has 4 calories per gram. protein is nothing more than strings of amino acids attached to each other. How do amino acids have ten times less energy per gram than proteins? Somebody please explain.

        1. Shahryar says:

          This part confused me too. I asked that same question about EAAs being so low in calories and was linked to this paper:

          So it seems a serving of EAAs from Kion Aminos (1 scoop, approx 6-7g) would be around 30-40 calories

  26. Floyd Aldrich says:

    Carnivore, it’s all I need.

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