What Is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that is essential to the human body.
It is one of the three macronutrients (fat and carbohydrates being the other two) that provide the body with energy.
Protein is found in every cell of the body and is necessary for the growth and repair of tissues.
Insufficient protein can lead to muscle wasting, weakness, and a weakened immune system.
In general, protein can be found in both animal and plant foods, and it is important to include both in your diet.
Animal-based proteins are considered complete proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids that the body needs.
For example, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products are all good sources of animal protein.
Plant-based proteins are not considered complete proteins because they are missing one or more of the essential amino acids.
For example, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds are all good sources of plant protein.
Despite the fact that plant-based proteins are not complete, they can still be a part of a healthy diet.
What are proteins made of?
Proteins are made up of small units called amino acids.
There are 20 different amino acids that can be used to make a protein, and 9 of these amino acids are considered essential.
This means that the body cannot make them on its own and they must be obtained through diet.
What do proteins do in the body?
Proteins have a variety of functions in the human body.
Some proteins, such as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies, play important roles in chemical reactions and help to regulate bodily processes.
Other proteins, such as those found in muscles, bones, and skin, provide structure and support.
Proteins are also a source of energy.
They can be broken down and used for energy if the body does not have enough carbohydrates or fats available.
Health Benefits of Protein
There are many health benefits that are associated with getting enough protein in your diet.
These benefits include:
- Builds lean muscle mass: Protein is essential for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. Particularly, muscle mass is important for both physical strength and metabolism. (4)
- Reduces risk of obesity: Eating a high-protein diet has been linked to reduced levels of body fat and a lower risk of obesity. This is likely due to the fact that protein helps to increase satiety and reduce appetite. (5)
- Lowers blood pressure: Higher protein intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension. (6)
- Improves bone health: You need protein for strong bones. It helps form and maintains the bone structure and density. (7)
- Reduces risk of heart disease: Plant-based protein has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. (8)
- Boosts metabolism: Protein helps to increase metabolism and burn more calories. (9, 10)
- Control sugar levels: A high-protein diet can help to control blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. (11, 12)
- Helps digest food: Protein aids in the digestion of food by helping to break down and absorb nutrients.
- Supports growth and development: Protein is essential for normal growth and development, especially during childhood and adolescence. (13)
- Boosts the immune system: Proteins are the building blocks of immunity, so getting enough can help keep your defenses up. (14)
- Aids in weight loss: Because protein boosts metabolism and reduces appetite, it can help you lose weight.
- Slow down your aging process: Protein plays a role in the repair and maintenance of cells, so it can help to keep you looking young.
Good Sources of Protein
As mentioned above, protein can be found in both animal and plant foods.
- Meat: Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy: Milk, cheese, whey
- Beans and legumes: Lentils, black beans, kidney beans, green peas, soybeans
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds
- Tofu and tempeh
- Grains: Quinoa, buckwheat
- Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, Brussels Sprouts
- Fruits: Avocados, bananas, guava, jackfruit, kiwi, blackberries, and raspberries
When it comes to getting enough protein, it is best to focus on quality over quantity.
This means choosing protein sources that are nutrient-dense and free from unhealthy additives.
How much protein do you need every day?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight or 56 grams per day for the average sedentary adult. (15)
However, this amount is based on the minimum amount of protein needed to prevent deficiency and may not be sufficient for optimal health.
For instance, athletes and people who exercise regularly need more protein than sedentary adults.
The RDA for protein is also based on the assumption that you are getting enough calories and nutrients from other sources.
If you are not eating a balanced diet, then you may need to increase your protein intake to make up for the lack of other nutrients.
Proteins are an essential nutrient that your body needs in order to function properly.
They are the building blocks of your cells, and they play a vital role in many biological processes, including cell growth and repair, immune function, and energy production.
Your body needs protein to maintain lean muscle mass, and it is also an important source of energy.
There are many different sources of protein, including animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, as well as plant-based foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
You can also get protein from dairy products such as milk and yogurt.
It is important to eat a variety of protein-rich foods to get all the essential nutrients your body needs.
Also read: 10 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Protein