I’ll try to paint a picture about the human body and why the body requires protein. Some people believe that protein makes big muscles. Honestly that is true as long as you are eating a lot of protein as well as lifting your fair share of weights. Protein however; doesn’t just make muscles, that is just one results of what protein does. Protein is the handyman of an apartment complex. If your sink is clog you call your handyman. If anything goes wrong within that apartment you call the handyman. The handyman gets to work and fixes your issue and rebuilds the apartment.
Protein is similar to a handyman or a jack of all trades. At the lowest level of what protein does; it breakdown, rebuilds, and repairs (Contemporary Nutrition). Protein is doing this all the time. Back to the conception that protein makes muscle. When a weightlifter lifts weights their muscle is ripping and tearing because of the weight of the iron they are pumping. When this happens that body goes into a state of emergency, shoots blood into the muscle which is carrying amino acids, which is what protein is made up of. The protein breaks down and begins to repair the ripping muscle. As the muscle repairs it gets bigger and stronger than before. That 24 to 48 hour soreness is the body and the proteins working on restoring the muscles.
Impacts of Protein
So, what else does protein impact and affect in the body. First understand that the body is made up of trillions of cells (Greg Laden has a nice blog on cells in the body) and the creation of protein occurs in each of these cells. Protein makes up thousands of substances in the body. The lean muscle tissue in the body is primarily made up of water and protein. On average about 17% of body weight is protein. There are simple functions that certain proteins provide such as hormone and enzyme production, fluid balance, and visual processes. Proteins also transport substances through the bloodstream and functions such as blood clotting. The repairing of cells in the body (like muscles after working out) is also a main function of protein. Because of the all the functions of protein the body creates proteins in many sizes. Along with everything else that protein does it also provides the body with energy. 1 gram of protein is equal to 4 calories of energy.
As stated before amino acids are the building blocks for proteins. Each amino acid links to another which forms the protein. The body uses 20 different amino acids to create protein. 11 of these are formed within the body. The other 9 essential amino acids don’t form quick enough in the body and therefore the body obtains these amino acids through food. Without enough amino acids the body will soon fight to maintain the current amino acids in the body. As the amount lessens the body will soon stop the creation of proteins. The body will burn proteins quicker than they are made which then will deteriorate the health of the body. Affects of this include the deterioration of muscles as well as organs.
How much protein?
We know why the body needs protein. The body needs the protein to continue to repair and rebuild the body as it functions each day. How much does the body need? There are many different studies and diets that have different answers on this. To maintain the function of the body it is suggested that the body receive 10% to 30% of its daily calories from protein.
What foods have protein?
All meats of have protein; some meats are leaner than others which means they don’t have as much fat along with the protein. Many plants also have proteins such as beans, peas, soybeans. Even grains have proteins as well. Dairy products are also a great source of protein. For me as a plant-based eater I get lot of my proteins from plants, including Tofu, Seitan, Peas, Beans, and soy-alternative products.
So check what you are eating and make sure you are getting the right amount of protein for your body. If you are Great! If you are not; it will make you feel better and your body work better.
What is your favorite protein or how much do you eat in a day; please share.