How does protein help the body? Are you getting enough protein in your diet? These are some questions we seldom ask.
It is often about calories, carbs, and fats we are keeping track. But do you know that all those calories, carbs, and fats tracking will be useless without protein?
What is protein?
Protein is a highly complex substance present in all living organisms. They are the building blocks of the chemical processes essential for life.
Proteins are different for every species and even for the other parts of our body, like the proteins in the brain and liver differ from the proteins in the muscle.
Our bodies do not store protein. Every cell in it has proteins. It is the primary skin, muscle, bone, organs, hair, and nails component.
You should also make sure you are ingesting enough protein. It plays a significant role in creating and maintaining every cell in the body. It fuels our cells and gives energy to our bodies.
Protein is not a magic potion that will make you immune from all illnesses, but it is an essential part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
What are proteins made of?
Proteins are made of amino acids connected in long chains. These compounds help key players in your body systems work, such as the T cells, B cells, and antibodies as germ fighters.
It is a macronutrient. Meaning you need lots of it to be healthy. Protein plays a role in many bodily processes.
What are Amino acids?
Amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins. Both Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life because when you digest proteins, what’s left are amino acids.
Protein synthesis or continuous repair of body proteins needs a constant supply of amino acids.
Although the body can recycle some amino acids from the previous breakdowns, it is not enough to replace them. And so, we must eat foods rich in protein to keep up with the demands of amino acids.
The human body needs several amino acids in large valuable amounts to meet health requirements.
What are the three groups of amino acids?
The body cannot produce essential amino acids, so we must get them from food intake.
The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Examples of foods rich in Essential Amino Acids are:
- Legumes and beans
NON-ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
Non-essential amino acids can be produced by our bodies, even if we do not get them from protein-rich foods.
The non-essential amino acids are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
CONDITIONAL AMINO ACIDS
Except when sick and stressed, the body does not need conditional amino acids.
Conditional amino acids include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.
You do not need to take these amino acids at every meal, but a balanced diet each day is essential. Just make sure you get the required amount of protein for the whole day.
While different types of animal meat are a source of protein, red meat is especially hard to digest and stays in the colon, which is a potential cause of cancer.
Other animal products like dairy are alo potential allergens. These facts make plant foods your excellent sources of protein.
THE MULTIPLE HEALTH BENEFITS OF PROTEIN
1. Boosts Metabolism
Protein boosts metabolism temporarily because it needs more energy to process. A high protein diet reduces appetite, thus helping you lose weight. Just make sure to maintain having a high protein diet to achieve the effects of long-term weight maintenance.
A high protein diet stimulates metabolism and increases calories burned by about 80 to 100 per day, thus helping you lose weight.
2. Helps Build Muscle Mass
It helps build and maintain muscle mass and strength. When your metabolism works efficiently, more muscles are formed. At age 40, you may experience loss of muscle mass and strength which requires eating protein more and reducing calorie intake.
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People who exercise vigorously to gain skeletal muscle mass do not need extra protein. High protein diets do not cause muscle mass. The stimulation of muscle tissue causes muscle mass through exercise, which leads to muscle growth, not extra dietary protein.
Staying physically active is essential, including working out in gyms or engaging in resistance exercise.
To help prevent losing muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, you need more protein to gain muscle. Some who have a hard time taking in more protein resort to dietary protein; that’s fine as long as it’s not too much. Very high protein diets are dangerous.
DO YOU KNOW THAT
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a large single dose of 25 g of protein after exercise could increase muscle protein synthesis.
This finding could explain why protein shakes are often associated with those who work out, body builders, and gym rats.
3. Helps in Weight Loss
It helps people shed excess pounds to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Getting more protein can improve dopamine function, resulting in reduced cravings.
What happens is that protein increases your metabolism. This increased metabolism, together with reduced cravings, supports weight loss. A high-protein diet reduces food craving, so you’ll take in fewer calories.
Getting enough protein is vital for weight loss and optimal health. So, the role of enough protein in weight maintenance is something that we must all consider.
Being overweight increases a person’s risk of a host of chronic illnesses, which includes:
- Cardiovascular problems,
- high blood pressure
- gallbladder disease
- breathing problems
- certain cancers
DO YOU KNOW THAT
Increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories made overweight women eat 441 lesser calories each day without intentionally doing so? This reduced craving is partly because protein lowers the level of your hunger hormone called ghrelin.
You can reduce belly fat by replacing carbs and fats when you consume protein regularly in valuable amounts.
HOW TO REPLACE CARBS AND FATS BY INCREASING PROTEIN INTAKE
- Include one high protein food with each meal
- Replace a source of carbohydrate with a protein source. Swap a piece of toast for oats
- Check the labels of protein bars before adding them to your diet. Find those with no added sugar or if they do at least in lesser amounts.
4. Healthy Aging
Protein assists in healthy aging, something that all of us cannot escape from but can be tricked to age slowly.
A protein-rich diet can also help maintain bone mass, which we know deteriorates as we age. The amount of protein you need in your diet will depend on your overall calorie needs.
The recommended protein intake for healthy adults is 10% to 35% of your total calorie needs per day.
5. Prevention of Certain Conditions and Illnesses
Higher protein intake prevents weak muscle tone edema or swelling due to fluid retention, and It also helps prevent thin, brittle hair and skin lesions in adults.
6. Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Several studies show that higher protein intake effectively helps in lowering blood pressure, specifically protein that comes from plants.
7. Lowers Risk of Having Heart Diseases
Some studies show improvements in the many risk factors for heart disease.
Plant-based sources of protein help reduce the risk of heart diseases. More findings confirm that taking in high proteins is associated with a lower risk of death from all causes.
8. Helps the Body build and Repair Cells and Tissues
Proteins help the body repair tissues that have undergone wear and tear as people age. Proteins do most of the work in the cells, and they are also needed for the function, structure, and regulation of the body’s organs and tissues.
9. Triggers a Healthy Diet
When you have enough proteins intake in your body, you also trigger a healthy diet. Why? Protein has been observed to curb the craving for hard-to-resist food that keeps you from a healthy diet.
It is because of a brain chemical called dopamine. This chemical in the brain is linked to addiction. Adequate protein intake means improved dopamine function, which may cause reduced cravings.
9. Improves Bone Health
Consuming the right amount of protein in your food intake improves your bone health. Protein lowers the chance of bone loss or osteoporosis by strengthening bone density.
Bone density measures the amount of minerals, primarily calcium and phosphorus, found in a particular volume of bone through a bone density test.
When you lack these, protein included, your bones can break easily, resulting in fractures from as simple as sneezing or slipping.
10. Boosts the Immune System
The amino acids in proteins help the key players in your immune system. Studies show that protein, including animal protein, is essentially beneficial for healthy bones.
Is it reasonable to take protein supplements?
When people cannot cope with the required daily protein intake, many of them opt to incorporate protein supplements into their diet. These are convenient to ensure that the body provides the protein it needs to be healthy.
Of course, different brands and flavors of protein bars have different nutritional values. These factors affect the presence of nutrients in them like calories, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber contents.
Enjoying the benefits of protein is easier with protein powders. Whether you prefer tasty protein shakes or crunchy snacks, products built with plant-based protein such are intelligent choices.
The Food and Drug Administration classifies protein shakes and powders under dietary supplements. This means that you can’t be sure if the products contain what the manufacturers claim they do.
However, you may be amazed to find out that there are safe protein supplements, FDA approved, lower or zero sugar content, and have valuable minerals and nutrients to offer.
Some people may benefit from high-quality protein powder for their health issues like:
- Reduced appetite
- Aging which may cause undesirable eating habits
- Undergoing cancer treatment
- Unhealing wound
- Severe burn that requires more calories to heal fast
Oats contain more protein compared with other grains. Also, research suggests that aside from its many health benefits, eating oats may reduce the risks of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol levels.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is too much protein harmful to your health?
The FDA recommends that adults consume 50 grams (g) a day as part of a 2,000 calorie diet. How much protein we eat every day depends on how many calories a person needs to rely on in their calorie intake.
Too much protein may cause:
- certain cancers,
- higher cholesterol,
- weight gain,
- kidney stones,
- and constipation.
But many of these potential effects depend on your overall diet and the type of protein you’re taking in your body.
How much protein do you need?
Eating various protein foods throughout the day is the best way to meet your daily protein needs. But how much protein do you need?
According to the National Academy of Medicine, adults should get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day.
Supposing your body weight is 50 kilograms:
50 X 0.8 = 40 grams of protein each day
A person weighing 50 kilograms needs around 40 grams of protein each day.
How do I get my protein needs met?
Some high-protein foods are better for health than others. To get adequate protein, you must opt for high-protein, plant-based foods with other essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B 12, and Zinc.
In the US, most people meet their daily protein needs. So, having a low protein intake in the diet is unusual in the US. If you want to increase your protein intake, you can include healthy, high-protein foods with each meal.
Protein can come from different sources. Aim for healthy, low-fat sources, stay away from saturated fats and have undergone high processing. Excess protein from too many carbohydrates and fats will be converted to body fat.
What foods are high in protein?
Protein from food comes from plant and animal sources. Although animal products contain higher protein than whole grains and vegetables, many plant-based protein sources can give the desired part of the daily protein requirement.
So, people who eat plant foods or follow a vegetarian or a vegan diet must ensure that their protein needs are still met.
PROTEIN DEFICIENCY CAN LEAD TO MALNUTRITION
Protein deficiency can lead to malnutrition, such as kwashiorkor and marasmus. Both of these conditions are life-threatening.
This protein deficiency happens if a person has a health condition such as an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa.
An energy deficit due to the deficiencies of many micronutrients is called Protein-energy undernutrition (PEU). This condition can be sudden caused by total starvation or gradual.
PROTEIN – THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF LIFE
As the main factor for healthy bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin, proteins are the building blocks of life. There are proteins that the body cannot make on its own, and that’s why we need to sustain this need by taking in protein through the food we eat.
What we eat must meet the required protein that our bodies need each day. Not all proteins are complete, like animal products, soy, and quinoa. Incomplete proteins are proteins that do not contain all the essential amino acids.
Most plant foods contain incomplete proteins, including beans, grains, and nuts. The key to having a complete protein-rich diet is to learn how to combine incomplete protein sources to create a meal that provides all the essential amino acids.
Let us Help
At Amrita, we offer tried and tested nutritional snacks that can help meet your daily protein needs without compromising health.
Our products are:
- Clean, plant-based ingredients
- Free of top allergens
- Great for meal replacement, active adults, and kids
- Fresh products
- We have products with no added sugar, gluten-free, etc.
- We assure you our products are FDA-approved and formulated to match the safest requirement for your optimum health.
Our products are a convenient and delicious way to have your protein and you’ll be surprised to find maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not an impossible thing to do.