When people hear the word protein, all they usually think about is its role in building muscle.
But as if you needed more of a reason to make sure you’re eating adequate amounts, I am going to tell you that protein is so much more than that.
Protein is absolutely everything in the human body. There is not a single cell or role that does not require sufficient quantities of protein to function properly.
Proteins are made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids. In total there are 20 different types of amino acids.
Nothing would work without these 20 amino acids. They are absolutely essential for our health, growth, development, reproduction, lactation, and survival. If you do not intake sufficient quantities of protein everything will suffer from your hormones and mental health to your physical health and appearance.
Pictures 1,2 and 3 show you the different amino acids and their important roles.
Now how much protein do you need per day?
Due to their importance you want to be getting in at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean bodyweight. For resistance training individuals, this needs to 1.2 grams per pound of lean bodyweight minimum.
Protein is an essential macronutrient meaning that unlike carbohydrates (see ‘beginners guide to carbohydrate’) our bodies can not produce them internally. Thus we must make sure we are getting in enough quality sources from our diet.
The best sources of protein include eggs, meat and fish. They provide all the amino acids in their most bioavailable forms. They will also come with a large dose of essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids (read ‘meat vs plants’ post). Do not focus on plant proteins to hit your daily protein requirements, they are less bioavailable and more incomplete than animal proteins, meaning they are not utilised properly by the body nor do they contain all 20 amino acids. They also come with a hefty dose of anti nutrients (read ‘antinutrients, the dark side of vegetables’ post).