Let’s Talk… Protein
Have you ever wondered what protein actually is, and why you need to eat it every day? Besides being the best bait to catch a gym rat?
-Protein is one of the three macronutrients, and is essential to building muscle mass. Your body does not store protein, and therefore relies on you feeding it with a fresh supply every day!
-Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are the building blocks of muscle mass- no protein, no gains!
Proteins act as:
- Antibodies- for bacteria and viruses
- Enzymes- for chemical reactions, to include reading DNA
- Messengers- for hormones, tissues, cells and organs
- Structure- for cells, and allowing the body to move
- Transport- to assist atoms and molecules around the body
–Some very important jobs!
Many organs and hormones are made of protein, and the immune system, digestive system, and your blood rely on protein to work correctly. Think: bones, cartilage, skin, hair, nails and muscles. When we eat, food travels through our digestive system, and protein gets broken down into the individual amino acids the body needs. They can then be absorbed into the bloodstream and used for everything mentioned before. Your body needs twenty amino acids – as a biological machine it can create eleven of these itself. The other nine are known as your “essential” amino acids, and must be derived from food sources. Your body uses these amino acid building blocks to make over 50,000 different proteins, each with a specific structure and function based on the arrangement of the amino acids- much like DNA!
-Protein is commonly found in animal products, though it is also present in many other foods like nuts and legumes.
-Our satiety (or how full we feel) depends on our protein intake during a meal, which also affects our mood, focus and sleep.
-A safe level of protein ranges from 0.8 grams/kilogram of body weight to as high as 2 g/kg for very active athletes. The benefit of working with a nutritionist is dialing in the right number! Most people need 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal. The rest is usually passed through the body, or in some cases stored as glucose or fat.
Most importantly, protein is needed to help build muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you have, the stronger you are, and the higher your metabolism- helping burn more calories every day, even at rest. So get your protein intake right, build some muscle, and look- and feel- great!