Protein seems to come up a lot in the dieting world. No matter if the conversation is dealing with a diet for building muscle, or a diet for trying to take off the pounds, protein manages to weasel its way in there. What is the importance of protein? First, lets take a look at what protein is.
Proteins are comprised of long chains of amino acids, and there are 22 different types of amino acids (14 non-essential and 8 essential). The non-essential amino acids don’t need to come from any external source because our bodies can produce them on their own. The essential acids, on the other hand, are broken down in our digestive system and are reformed to be used throughout the body. A good example of our bodies appropriating the proteins would be the protein collagen, which is vital for strength, composition of our hair, and elasticity of our skin. On a bigger scale, protein helps structure our muscles and organs and provides the building blocks for enzymes and antibodies.
So what can protein specifically do for your body? For starters, protein takes longer than fats and carbs to digest, meaning you’ll feel fuller for a longer period of time after eating something rich in protein. That’s why snacking on nuts and seeds is such a healthy option. It also helps repair muscle fibers after a workout and maintain their new size, making it ideal for the frequent gym-goer looking to bulk up. Protein also helps regulate your blood pressure, avoiding unhealthy spikes. The foods that generally contain protein are also high in vitamin B, which helps with energy levels, assists the nervous system in functioning normally, rebuilds or replaces red blood cells, and repairs muscle tissue in the body.
High sources of protein are found in a lot of different foods, though the best source is eggs. They contain the highest amount of essential amino acids, followed closely by fish. Overdoing it with protein can negatively affect our health though. Excess protein can be stored as fat in the body, can lead to high cholesterol, and puts a strain on our livers and kidneys as they try to filter out all the toxins in the food as well as all the extra nitrogen that the protein provides. The foods themselves can be harmful as well, as protein sources are usually high in calories and fat.
The US Department of Agriculture recommends that all men and women over the age of 19 should get at least 0.37 grams per pound of body weight per day. be sure to choose smart proteins like lean meats, eggs, beans and nuts. Protein might have seemed like an essential for the gym-goers and no one else, but keeping up with your protein is important for everyone!