We see thousands of protein products around us and you can't miss the promotion thereof , but what exactly is protein and why is it so important?
- Proteins are important building blocks for the body.
- The body consists largely of protein. A human adult body consists of 12 kilograms of protein on average.
- We need protein for the renewal of cells, muscles, organs, bones, hair, nails and platelets. But they also play a big role in weight loss. As the body 'eats' from protein when in a state of fat loss. When we lack protein however, the body will then 'eat' at the muscles to refuel otherwise.
Hence we need to refuel our body with protein often, especially when we're working out a lot.
Imagine a beaded chain. Each chain (protein) is made up of different beads, these are amino acids. There are 22 different amino acids and the body can make 13 of these itself, the other 9 must be obtained from food.
The 9 amino acids that must be obtained from the diet are: essential amino acids.
The 13 amino acids that the body can make itself are: non-essential amino acids.
After eating protein, enzymes in your stomach 'cut' the chain until there's all these loose beads. This is done in order to absorb the protein in the intestines.The body needs all of these different amino acids in order to rebuild and use the proteins.
Then there’s also a difference between animal protein and plant protein:
Animal based protein contains all of the essential amino acids, plant based protein doesn't. By combining multiple sources of protein everyday, you get all of the essential protein.
For the average adult 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is recommended per day.
Most of the time, this recommendation is met easily. But for more active people, recommendations are often higher.
Category Grams of proteins needed per day:
Non athlete / average adult 0.8 g/kg body weight
Recreational athletes/ endurance athletes 1.2-1.5 g/kg body weight
Strength training athletes 1.5 -2.0 g/lg body weight
In the fitness industry you see a lot of protein supplements. These can be great, but they’re definitely not necessary nor are they a replacement of the protein we gain from our nutrition, which is often times enough. We always say, think of a pyramid and divide it in three layers:
The lower layer is nutrition, then comes exercise and the top layer is suppletion. Supplements can be useful on top of that foundation and is only optimal when combined with the right nutrition and exercise.
Sources of protein in nutrition:
- Cottage cheese
- Meat substitutes
- Peanut butter
So next time you do groceries, make sure to load your cart with the above!