What is protein and why do we need it in our diet?

Written by Mary on . Posted in Healthy food

protein-foodsWhat comes into  your mind when you hear the word protein? How about when you are advised to drink a high protein shake or follow a high protein diet? You may be hearing the word protein over and over again but don’t really know what protein is and whether it is something necessary in our diet.

What is protein?

Did you know that without protein our body will not be able to work properly? Protein, along with fats and carbohydrates,  is a macronutrient.  This means that our bodies need large amounts of them to function properly. Proteins are composed of amino acids, which are recognized as the building blocks of protein. This chemical compound is composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Our bodies produce some of the amino acids, but those it cannot produce can be taken from the food we eat.
Protein is important because it can be found everywhere in our body! It is present in the membrane of every living cell! Here is a list of what protein does for our body:
1. Proteins are very important in cell division, which is necessary for growth and reproduction. It is also important in the repair of cells.
2. Protein helps distribute the nutrients we eat to every cell in the body.
3. When our bodies are exposed to foreign substances like viruses,  our immune system releases proteins that are called antibodies to fight against the incoming disease.
4. Protein is vital in the production of neurotransmitters, a chemical used by the nerves to send messages to each other or to others cells like the muscle cells.
Almost every function in the human body requires protein!

How much protein is optimal?

It’s a very good question how much protein is a optimal? I think there’s is a several point of view and each depends what diet you follow. And of course it’s depends your level of activity and your age.
If you are strength athlete or endurance athlete versus average joe, you protein intakes are totally different. In the U.S average person get’s too much protein in daily basis, because high use of animal proteins.
Here are our recommendations of protein intake:
Normal adult with no exercise/or very light exercise can go with 0.6g protein per 1 kilo of weight. So if you weight is 70kg, you need about 42 gram protein per day.
Strength athlete needs 1.6 – 1.8 gram protein per 1 kilo. So 70kg person needs about 119kg protein in daily basis.
Endurance athlete needs 1.2 – 1.4 gram protein per 1 kilo. So 70kg person needs  about 91 gram protein in daily basis.

Where to get protein?

Best protein sources are animals based; meat, poultry, eggs and fish. Dairy is also  good source, but it may not fit everyone and everyone should limit their dairy products. If you go with animal based, please prefer grass -ed and organic and for the fish wild is the best.
And you can get some protein for veggies as well; Nuts(Almonds), soybean, feta, quinoa and legumes.

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