What is Protein and Why is it so Important to Your Health?

What Is Protein

What Is Protein? And Why Do I Need It?

Protein is defined as a large complex molecule made up of one or more chains of amino acids linked by peptide bonds.

Proteins perform several activities in the cell. It is also considered a highly complex nitrogenous compound found in all animal and vegetable tissues.

Proteins are the principal components of amino acids in peptide bonds. Twenty different amino acids are commonly found in proteins and each protein has its unique sequence which determines its function.

Proteins may serve as enzymes, structural elements, hormones, immunoglobulin, and many other functions. They are also involved in transporting oxygen, contracting muscles, transporting electrons, and other activities throughout the body and in photosynthesis.

Proteins are also the main components of muscle tissue and they function as helpers with muscle development and increasing strength. Protein is also said to help improve athletic performance.

Protein is also what makes up the outer layer of hair, nails, and skin. Each gram of protein has four calories.

Protein plays a very important role in the human body. The main function of protein is building up, keeping up, and replacing tissues in your body. You could say protein is kind of the effective maintenance person keeping the body intact. Mainly, protein is most for muscles, organs, and hormones.

Protein is also responsible for making antibodies and hemoglobin which serve in delivering oxygen to your blood.

Essential Amino Acids

The amino acids which are linked to make up protein are mainly available in our body. There are 20 different amino acids, and our bodies can make 14 of them. The other 6 proteins need to come from the foods that we eat.

The amino acids our body is capable of producing are called non-essential Amino Acids. The rest are considered essential Amino Acids because we have to get them from elsewhere. 

These eight essential amino acids are so important for your body, which is given below: 

  1. leucine, 
  2. isoleucine, 
  3. valine, 
  4. threonine,
  5.  methionine,
  6.  phenylalanine,
  7.  tryptophan, 
  8.  lysine.

 One more amino acid, histidine, is also considered essential to the diet of children.

Proteins are considered essential for growth and structural support. The body typically uses fats and carbohydrates for energy, but if there is an excess protein it is either used for energy or converted to fat and stored.

So where do we get the rest of our amino acids? And why is it so essential that we have them? Certainly, we can survive without them, so what is the big deal?

First of all, the essential amino acids that our body is unable to produce on its own are found in some very common foods.

Examples of Protein Foods to Try: eggs, milk, meat, apricots, avocados, bananas, cherries, dates, figs, nuts, beans, and grapes are all good sources of protein. While most people are under the false impression that all protein has to come from meat, there are plenty of other foods with a rich store of protein.

Many have heard of implementing a high protein diet as part of their lifestyle, but few understand what the benefits of eating more protein do.

The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance

Eating a high-protein diet is said to produce rapid weight loss by stimulating the loss of fluids from the body. It is also said that high protein diets can be dangerous if they are done improperly or without a doctor’s approval. There are even some who feel that high protein diets are more harmful than helpful because too much protein can worsen the symptoms of liver and kidney disease. Thus, it is highly recommended that before adding too much protein, one consults one’s, own doctor.

To eat good protein and adequate amounts of it. You should be aware of what foods already contain protein and whether or not you are getting an adequate amount.

Foods That Offer Good Sources of Protein

Examples of Protein Foods to Try:

Foods that contain different proteins that do not come from animals.

  • nuts 
  • seeds,
  • tofu,
  • cereals with wheat oats
  • rice,
  • eggs,
  • some dairy product.

It is also important to know that foods comprised of animal proteins tend to be of a higher protein quality than most plants.

How Much You Need Protein?

It is also important to know how much protein you should be consumed daily. The recommended amounts of protein vary from person to person or depending on age and sex.

  • Children from birth to 3 are expected to take 12.5-15 grams each day.
  • Children from 4-7 should consume between 20-28 grams of protein per day.
  • Women ages 11-18 should consume between 41 and 45 grams of protein each day and
  • Female ages 19-49 should consume 45 grams of protein each day.
  • Women over the age of 50 should consume 46 grams a day while pregnant.
  • Breastfeeding women should consume between 51 and 56 grams of protein each day.
  • Men 11-18 should consume between 42 and 55 grams of protein a day.
  • From the age of 19-49 men should consume about 55.5 grams of protein a day.
  • Men over the age of 50 should consume 53 grams of protein each day.

While this may seem like a lot of protein. It is easily reached as long as food like milk, beans, wheat toast, and meat are eaten each day.

To see if you are getting enough protein, simply read the nutrition guides on the foods you consume daily and do the math.

You may find that you are lacking in protein and that adding it to your diet is easier than you thought.