Proteins are an essential building block the body needs to properly function. It is part of all the tissues in your body. It is a vital part of bodily processes, like growth, cell maintenance, and even thought. Here are a few interesting tidbits about protein and role it plays in your life:
- Proteins are formed from long chains of amino acids, and amino acids are needed for everything from building cells organelles to producing hormones. When we ask “how much protein do I need to eat”, we’re actually asking “Which amino acids do I need to intake and in what relative proportion?”
- 22 amino acids exist in nature. The body can synthesize 11 of these. These are called “non-essential” amino acids. 9 amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body and must be ingested through food. These are called “essential” amino acids.
- When a food provides all 9 essential amino acids, it is called a “complete” protein. Foods that are combined to form a complete protein profile are known as “complimentary” proteins.
- Unlike fats and sugars, our bodies have no way to store amino acids. They must be built into proteins, burned for energy, converted to glucose, or excreted.
- Sources of complete protein include meats, like beef, fish, and chicken, as well as dairy and soy products and protein supplements.
- Sources of complimentary proteins include, nuts and seeds, grains (pasta, rice, bread), and to a lesser extent, fruits and vegetables.
- Proteins help you stay alert by providing amino acids your brain needs to aid the transfer of messages between neurotransmitters.
- Proteins are essential for building muscle, enzymes, and hormones like insulin.
- Ingestion of proteins help you feel full longer and may help to raise your metabolism, helping to promote weight loss.
- It’s important to intake lean protein. Many protein sources are also high in saturated fats.
- Eating lean proteins helps the heart, lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels.
- Optimum protein intake depends on your age and gender. The recommended daily protein allowance for men 18 and over is 56 grams while the recommended allowance for women 18 and over is 46 grams.
- Overconsumption of protein can give rise to health problems. Unused proteins are converted to and stored as fat. Large amounts of meat and dairy can lead to excessive levels of saturated fats and trans fats, as well as increased cholesterol. Kidney stones and gout can also become issues if you ingest too much protein.
Replacing meat protein with plant protein can help remedy some health problems associated with meat protein. However, as plants are lower in protein content than meats, you will have to eat more fruits and vegetables to get the same amount of protein you’d get from eating meats.