Easy to Digest Protein - Where To Find It & How It Works

Female athlete holding a tumbler with easy to digest protein shake while resting at a gym after working out


We all know that protein is important for a healthy diet and lifestyle, but where do we find easy to digest protein? You may be looking for the easiest protein to digest for a number of reasons, whether it's to get the best results from your workout, or to avoid stomach upset. 

So is there such a thing as easy to digest protein and difficult to digest protein? 

Today we will take a look at what protein does for our body, how it benefits athletes and non-athletes alike, and the differences between proteins that can make them more or less easy to digest. Then, we’ll discuss the easiest protein to digest, and what makes it such an easy to digest protein. 

In order to understand the nuances between types of protein, let’s first take a moment to understand protein on the whole: what protein is, why the body needs it, and what the body does with protein when it has it. 

Understanding protein

Proteins are essential molecules that play a crucial role in the human body. In many ways, we can think of proteins as the building blocks of life. They are made up of smaller units called amino acids, which are like the letters of an alphabet that can be arranged in many meaningful ways. 

Breaking the protein in our food or supplements down into amino acids gives our body the building blocks it needs to arrange for many specific uses. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined in various sequences to create different proteins, and be used for different functions.

Protein functions

So what does protein do? 

Protein has several important functions in the body. It is responsible for the structure, function, and regulation of tissues and organs. That structure is important for all types of cells, from the rigid strength of our bones, to the bulk strength of our muscles, the tensile strength of our tendons and ligaments, and the cushioning support of cartilage.

But protein doesn’t just make up the “strong” parts of our body. All cells need strength in one way or another. For example, proteins make up a significant portion of our skin, organs, hair, and nails. 

On top of this, proteins act as enzymes; molecules that help create chemical reactions in our cells. These chemical reactions aid digestion, our metabolism, and other vital processes. This is useful assistance for us in all stages of life, but particularly as we get older.

Further, protein plays a crucial role in our immune system. It can help to identify and neutralize harmful invaders such as bacteria and viruses, acting as antibodies. Additionally, proteins can transport molecules throughout the body, carry oxygen in our blood, and provide signals for cell communication.

Protein even plays an important role in our diet by giving us a feeling of satiety (feeling full). This helps regulate our appetites. So including protein-rich meals in your diet can aid in weight management by reducing overeating and promoting a healthy body composition.

As you can see, protein does a lot of work. We’d be lost without this macronutrient, so it’s important that we keep our bodies topped up with enough of it.

Is protein only necessary for athletes?

Given that the functions listed above are processes all of us need to live healthy lives, protein is not only important for athletes. It’s important for everyone!

While athletes and individuals who take part in regular physical activity may have higher protein needs due to the demands of exercise and muscle repair, protein is essential for everyone, regardless of their activity level.

So now that you have a clear understanding of protein and its importance, what type of protein is best to take? And is one type of protein easier to digest than another? Let’s first take a look at the difference between plant and animal proteins. 

Plant protein vs animal protein

Are plant proteins a more easy to digest protein? Or are animal proteins? Let’s learn about their differences to help us understand what makes one a more easy to digest protein than the other.

When we first think of protein, we often think of meat. And when it comes to finding an easy to digest protein, there is a good reason for that. Animal protein from sources such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products tends to have a higher biological nutrient value compared to plant proteins.

But what about digestion?

Plant proteins from soy, peas, hemp, and quinoa are generally considered a little harder to digest than animal proteins. This is due to a couple factors. Plant proteins often contain higher levels of dietary fiber and anti-nutritional factors like phytates and lectins, which can interfere with protein digestion. 

In addition, most plant proteins are not complete proteins. What is the difference between complete vs incomplete proteins? Let’s take a look. 

Complete and incomplete proteins

Complete protein is protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. This means that when your body breaks the protein down into amino acids, it has all the building blocks it needs to make any type of protein cell in your body. 

Now, if the protein is incomplete, it does NOT contain all the essential amino acids. This means your body will have to draw from its existing stores of amino acids to fill in the missing pieces. That is, if you even have enough stores. 

If you are consistently eating only incomplete protein sources, that might be difficult for your body. This can make protein synthesis less efficient, and much longer to complete. This may slow down your digestion of the protein. 

If you usually rely on plant-based protein sources, it’s important to check which amino acids they are lacking, and find a way to supplement those amino acids into your diet. 

Based on this evidence, we usually opt for protein from animal sources as our preferred protein sources. But even though animal proteins are considered an easy to digest protein, some sources are better than others when it comes to digestibility. 

The best sources of protein

To ensure our bodies have enough protein, we should first look at how we feed ourselves. What are some easy protein sources

Well, our protein intake comes from our diet, and good sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. These foods provide us with the necessary amino acids to build and repair tissues, support growth, and maintain overall health.

The recommended daily intake of protein varies depending on factors like age, sex, activity level, and overall health. It is generally recommended to consume a diverse range of protein sources to ensure an adequate supply of all essential amino acids.

But it's difficult to get all your protein requirements from food alone. That’s because protein in its whole form takes a long time to digest and absorb, regardless of what food you are sourcing it from. 

If you really want the fastest access to your protein, then you need easy to digest protein supplements. Otherwise, a lot of the protein you are eating won’t be processed by your body, and will simply pass through your digestive system as waste. 

Getting your protein from supplements has some great benefits. Besides being an easy to digest protein source, supplements allow you to easily control the amount of protein you’re taking. 

Of course, depending on the form, source, and ingredients in your supplement, not all of them are the most easy to digest protein. Let’s discuss the important things to keep front of mind when choosing easy to digest protein supplements. 

16 examples of easy to digest protein

Easy to digest proteins are found in many plant and animal food sources. Eating a balance of these foods and combining plant foods can help you create meals filled with complete and easy to digest proteins. 

1. Chicken Breast (24 grams per 3 ounces)

Chicken breast is lean and low in fat, making it easier for the digestive system to process. It also contains relatively simple protein structures, making it less taxing on the stomach.

2. Fish (20-25 grams per 3 ounces)

Most fish varieties are low in connective tissue and fat, aiding digestion. Additionally, fish proteins are easily broken down by stomach enzymes.

3. Turkey (22 grams per 3 ounces)

Like chicken breast, turkey is lean and contains simple protein structures, making it gentle on the digestive system.

4. Eggs (6 grams per large egg)

Eggs are highly bioavailable and contain all essential amino acids in proper proportions. 

5. Tofu (10 grams per 3 ounces)

Tofu is made from soybeans, legumes known for their digestibility. Tofu undergoes a process of coagulation and pressing, which breaks down its proteins and makes them even easier to digest.

6. Cottage Cheese (14 grams per half-cup)

Cottage cheese is a soft cheese with a high protein content. It contains less lactose than other dairy products, making it easier to digest.

7. Greek Yogurt (17 grams per 6 ounces)

Greek yogurt is strained to remove excess whey, resulting in a thicker, creamier texture. This process also reduces lactose content, making it easier to digest.

8. Quinoa (8 grams per cooked cup)

Quinoa is a gluten-free whole grain that contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.

9. Lentils (9 grams per cooked half-cup)

Lentils are legumes lower in complex sugars than other beans, reducing the likelihood of digestive discomfort. They are also rich in soluble fiber, which aids digestion.

10. Bone Broth (6-12 grams per cup)

Bone broth is simmered for an extended period, which breaks down collagen and other proteins into easily digestible forms. It is also hydrating and soothing to the digestive tract.

11. Pumpkin Seeds (7 grams per ounce)

Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and healthy fats but relatively low in fiber compared to other nuts and seeds, making them easier to digest.

12. Soy Milk (7 grams per cup)

Soy milk is a lactose-free alternative to dairy milk and contains plant-based proteins that are generally easy for the body to digest.

13. Peanut Butter (8 grams per 2 tablespoons)

While peanut butter is calorie-dense, it contains relatively simple proteins that are easily broken down during digestion.

14. Chickpeas (7 grams per cooked half-cup)

Chickpeas are legumes lower in oligosaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that can cause gas and bloating. They are also rich in soluble fiber, which aids digestion.

15. Oats (6 grams per cooked cup)

Oats are a whole grain rich in soluble fiber, which helps regulate digestion. They are also naturally low in fat, making them easier on the digestive system.

16. Hydrolyzed Collagen (10-20 grams per serving)

Hydrolyzed collagen is collagen that has been broken down into smaller peptides through a process called hydrolysis. This results in a highly bioavailable and easy-to-digest form of collagen. Additionally, hydrolyzed collagen is free from fat and carbohydrates, further aiding in digestion.

Liquid protein shots like FrogFuel are a good example of an easily digestible nano-hydrolyzed collagen supplement. 

These foods are generally considered easy to digest proteins due to their protein structure, fiber content, and absence of compounds that may cause digestive discomfort for some individuals. However, individual tolerance may vary, so listening to your body and making dietary choices that work best for you is essential.

Choosing the right protein supplement

The first thing you want to look at when finding easy to digest protein supplements is the source. As we mentioned, plant protein might not be the best protein source for digesting, but not all animal protein sources are created equal either. 

For example, although whey protein is a very popular protein source, it may not be the easiest protein to digest. Why?

Whey is a byproduct from milk, and for anyone who is lactose intolerant, this can spell disaster for digestion. This is why whey protein upset stomachs are so common.

You could be lactose intolerant even without knowing it. It’s estimated that about 65% of people develop lactose intolerance at some point in their lives, which is a remarkably high number!

So if whey protein might not be the best? Then what is? Let’s examine collagen protein vs whey protein

Collagen protein doesn’t contain any lactose, and is already found in your body naturally. It is what your body uses to make all your connective tissues and structures more strong and flexible. It’s also what your body uses to repair muscle and skin fibers after hard workouts or injuries. 

Collagen can do some truly amazing things for your body, and is an easy to digest protein because you don’t need to worry about the side effects of whey. But aside from the source of your protein supplement, you should also look at the process by which it was made. 

Pick a hydrolyzed protein supplement

When looking for the most easy to digest protein supplement, you should purchase a supplement that is hydrolyzed, such as hydrolyzed collagen protein. 

What is hydrolyzed collagen? Hydrolyzed collagen is collagen protein that has been reduced in molecular size by a water-based treatment called hydrolysis. By breaking down the molecules into smaller pieces, hydrolysis increases the protein absorption rate and digestibility.

We discussed above how proteins are made of strings of connected amino acids. Imagine a protein as a necklace with many beads, where each bead represents an amino acid. Hydrolysis breaks this necklace into individual beads.

During hydrolysis, water molecules are used to break the chemical bonds that hold the amino acids together. This happens because the water molecule splits into two parts: a hydrogen atom (H) and an oxygen atom (O). 

The hydrogen atom attaches to one amino acid, while the oxygen atom binds to the next amino acid. This process breaks the bond between them, creating a new connection between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

By continuously adding water and repeating this process, the protein chain gradually gets broken down into smaller pieces called peptides. That’s what makes it easier to digest!

The easiest protein to digest

The very best easy to digest protein is a collagen protein that has been fortified with tryptophan to make it a complete protein. This supplement should be hydrolyzed, and better yet nano-hydrolyzed. This means it has gone through the process of hydrolysis more than once.

Frog Fuel collagen supplements are nano-hydrolyzed to make them an extremely easy to digest protein source. In fact, they have been proven to be fully digestible in just 15 minutes or less! 

If you’re looking for easy to digest protein that won’t upset your stomach and will help your body function as healthily as possible, a Frog Fuel hydrolyzed collagen protein supplement is a great choice to add to your daily routine. 

FAQs about easy to digest protein

Here are some answers to common questions about easy to digest protein:

Is peanut butter easy to digest?

Peanut butter is generally considered easy to digest for most people. While it is rich in protein and healthy fats, it contains relatively simple proteins broken down easily during digestion. 

However, peanut butter may not be easy to digest for individuals with peanut allergies or sensitivities and could cause adverse reactions.

What is the best thing to eat to improve digestion?

The best food to improve digestion can vary depending on individual preferences and dietary needs. 

There are some foods that are generally beneficial for digestion.

Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables: These help promote regular bowel movements and support gut health.

Fermented foods: Examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, which contain probiotics that support a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Whole grains: Foods like oats, quinoa, and brown rice are high in fiber, which aids digestion and promotes feelings of fullness.

Lean proteins: Options like chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, and collagen protein are easier to digest than fatty or heavily processed meats.

Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and preventing constipation.

What is the easiest protein to digest?

Proteins generally considered easy to digest include fish, eggs, chicken, tofu, chickpeas, oats, and hydrolyzed collagen protein

Are protein shakes easy to digest? 

Protein shakes can be an easy to digest protein option depending on their composition. For instance, whey protein, a popular ingredient in many protein shakes, can be more challenging to digest for some individuals. This is because whey protein contains lactose and can be harder for the body to break down compared to other protein sources. 

On the other hand, hydrolyzed collagen protein tends to be easier to digest since it has undergone a process that breaks down the protein into smaller, more easily digestible peptides. It is also lactose free, which makes it perfect for dairy-free protein shakes

Best Sellers

Knowledge & Resource

The Science of FrogFuel

See what makes Frogfuel stand out
from the rest of the pack.
See the Science
Knowledge & Resource

Advanced Training Tips

Take your training to the next level
View More Blogs