This is the first part of our series, looking at the three macronutrients; protein, carbohydrate, and fat.
This time we’re taking a look at protein.
What is protein?
Protein is considered the ‘building blocks of muscle’ and is composed of amino acids. Amino acids are organic compounds which consist of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. There are 20 different amino acids, of which nine are considered essential as the body can not make them.
What does protein do?
Protein is a vital part of cells. It helps build and repair muscle, bone, cartilage, skin, even your fingernails! Protein is perhaps best known as the macronutrient that aids muscle repair. Your muscles are made up of two types of filaments, and these filaments consist of two proteins; actin and myosin. During the process of muscle growth, your body repairs or replaces damaged fibers using available protein.
Enzymes that facilitate digestion, energy production, and muscle contraction are all proteins. Enzymes are responsible for a significant speeding up of virtually all of your body’s chemical reactions and are therefore are essential to the efficient completion of most bodily functions.
Albumin and globulin are proteins which are responsible for regulating your body’s fluid balance as they help attract and retain water in the cells. Without these proteins, your body can no longer keep fluid in the cells, and they are forced into space between cells, which causes swelling under the skin. This can lead to the potbelly look associated with malnutrition.
Antibodies, which protect your body from infection, are comprised of proteins. Without antibodies, you would be exposed to every bacteria and virus with very little protection. The most common infections could turn deadly.
How much protein do I need?
This is dependent on your lifestyle. People who live a sedentary lifestyle require a lot less than their physically active counterparts. The general accepted amount needed for the average person is 0.8g per kilogram of bodyweight. For physically active, it has been postulated that you may need as much as 1.5g per kilogram of bodyweight.
Generally, protein is found in meat products, but there are other sources:
- Beans & Legumes
Before introducing new foods to your diet to increase your intake of protein, you should consider whether you have food intolerances. Food intolerances can cause a range of symptoms that can have a seriously negative impact on health. You can take an intolerance test to find your food intolerances.