It is widely known the protein is an essential component in our diets. As one of three macronutrients, alongside fats and carbohydrates, protein is needed by our bodies to perform a range of functions for proper growth and functioning. The average human’s body is made up of approximately 15% protein.
What are proteins?
Protein is essentially made up of amino acids. These long amino acid chains are broken up by the body to form the protein types required by the body.
It is important to have protein as a part of your regular diet because the body cannot produce certain types of protein require on its own. In the human body, proteins are used for building muscle as well as the correct functioning of the metabolism.
What are the best sources of protein?
Typically, when we think of protein, we think of meats, fish, and poultry. However, in actual fact, most of the foods we consume contain some amount of protein. It is largely thought that vegans and vegetarians don’t get enough protein from their diets. However, many fruits and vegetables contain some levels of protein.
Animal-based proteins are not necessarily better than their plant-based counterparts. This is because animal proteins provide assembled amino acid chains while plant-based proteins provide disassembled amino acid chains, which do not need first to be disassembled by the body, conserving energy in the body.
Raw foods also provide higher quantities of protein than cooked foods, since the cooking process can destroy some of the valuable proteins.
What is the purpose of proteins?
Our bodies are highly dependent on protein for healthy functioning. Proteins are important since they hold all the elements of the body together, from the bones and our connective tissue to out muscles, organs, and cells. The enzymes that assist our metabolic functions are made up of protein.
Proteins are also responsible for transporting nutrients around the body, preserving muscle mass and contributing to the the growth of cells. Lastly, proteins are key molecules in our immune systems.
So, what is the right amount of protein that we need?
Most people get enough protein by eating a balanced diet, even non-meat eaters. According to the American Dietic Association, the recommended daily amount of protein for the average active adult is 0,8g per 1kg of body weight (1kg is equivalent to 2.2lbs). This number will obviously vary based on sex and level of activity. Women generally need less protein than men, and very active athletes need more protein in their diets.
It is important to note that you can fuel your body with too much protein which can cause problems with the functioning of the kidneys and the heart in addition to digestive problems, mineral imbalances and potential growth of cancer cells.
While protein is a necessary daily requirement in your diet, there is no need for any supplements to provide additional protein. With a balanced diet made up of a variety of foods, you are sure to get enough protein from your diet alone.