Protein is one of the most important macronutrients. It is essential to life.
It exists in many foods, but is especially high in animal foods.
Protein is powerful.
It is an essential component of the body. It’s in cells, it helps the body function, it boosts immunity and helps create hormones. It is also an important constituent of blood, skin, hair, heart, nails, and bones.
A high protein diet can be beneficial for weight loss and metabolic health.
Continue reading for some of the best health benefits to consuming protein.
A protein is made up of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen arranged into amino acids linked into a chain.
Amino acids are the simplest units of proteins. Proteins are made up of roughly 20 amino acids.
We eat protein, it is broken down to amino acids through digestion, and then the body rebuilds the proteins it needs using these amino acids.
The cells in our bodies link the amino acid breakdown products end to end in various sequences to synthesize thousands of different proteins.
The human body has 20,000-25,000 genes that code for hundreds to thousands of proteins. Each protein has a specific function in the body determined by protein synthesis that takes place. Each human is unique therefore based on small differences in each body’s proteins.
Protein synthesis in the body depends on a diet that provides quality protein and all of the essential amino acids.
The proteins you consume in your diet (AKA dietary proteins) go through digestion and absorption processes in your body and are broken down to their simplest units, amino acids. This forms an amino acid pool in the body for use by the cell. Proteins and amino acids are not readily stored in the body (there isn’t a lot of room to store them) so there is constant protein turnover, meaning they get used in a variety of ways in the body.
There are 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot make. This means they have to be obtained in the diet. The others (referred to as” non-essential amino acids”) the body can make from amino acids it gets from the diet.
Proteins can either be high biological value or low biological value. High biological value proteins contain all of the essential amino acids in a good sequence and are generally animal products like meat and whey protein. This high value means they are highly absorbed and utilized by the body.
During times of illness or chronic stress, the body may not be able to make all of it’s non-essential amino acids. At this point, they become “conditionally essential” meaning they must be obtained through a dietary source such as whey protein.
Whenever the body is growing, replacing, or replacing tissue, proteins are involved.
The amino acids of proteins are also precursors to several other compounds and proteins and have many roles such as:
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