Protein is essential to all life. Protein synthesis is needed in all living cells and our bodies need it as fuel to function. GNC sells it in massive canisters and people say eating bugs is a good source of it. In the fitness world, protein is god. A legal and morally acceptable steroid. There is a debate surrounded around the best way to get your protein, but the fact that it is needed has never been questioned. What is exactly is it and why is it so important to our bodies?
What is Protein?
Protein is a micronutrient found throughout the body in our hair, bones, muscles and in every cell in our bodies. It makes up the hemoglobin that carries oxygen to our blood and even makes up the enzymes that catalyze chemical reactions in our bodies. Protein is made out of building blocks called amino acids. Our bodies do not store amino acids, so our bodies produce them from scratch or modify others to fulfill needs. There are two types of Amino Acids:
1. Essential Amino Acids
- Cannot be made by the body
- They must come from food
- There are nine: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine
2. Non-Essential Amino Acids
- Can be made by humans and so is not essential to the human diet.
- There are 11: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine
Types of Protein
Complete Protein: A complete protein or whole protein is a food source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of each of the nine essential amino acids
Examples: red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt (Animal products)
Incomplete Protein: Plant foods are considered incomplete proteins. They are low or lacking in one or more of the amino acids we need to build cells and can be mixed together to make a complete protein.
How Much Do I Need?
According to the National Academy of Medicine an adult should consume a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day, or just over 7 grams for every 20 pounds of body weight. For a 200-pound person, that means about 70 grams each day. The National Academy of Medicine also sets a wide range for acceptable protein intake—anywhere from 10% to 35% of calories each day (Harvard.edu). The recommended amount per meal should be minimum 25-30 grams. This number can be modified depending on what your goals are.
How it Affects Your Muscles
Protein is the main micronutrient the body uses to build and repair muscle. Certain amino acids are better for building muscles than others. Three of the nine essential amino acids are the best for building muscle. They are:
After a tough workout protein needs to be ingested within a 30-minute time period for the protein to have the max effect repairing your muscles.
If you want more diet information or want to learn more about exercise science, it may be a good idea to work with a personal trainer.
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