What is Protein?

Protein is an important macronutrient needed for your growth and development. You can find protein in all living organisms.

When the food you consume is broken down into amino acids while digestion is known as protein. You know that protein is the building block of twenty plus amino acids in different combinations.

It is known as a large bio-molecule that helps in repairing cells. Consumption of balanced protein in your daily diet is very important.

Protein improves the overall health of children, teens, pregnant women, and adults. So in this article, you learn a detailed overview of protein, its source, and its benefits.

What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are molecules that combine in different combinations to form a protein. These amino acids stimulate protein for bones and muscles and produce enzyme and hormone protein.

These amino acids are classified into three groups- 

  1. Essential amino acids-  Nine amino acids are considered essential amino acids. These amino acids that you get from food and other protein supplements that you take for gaining protein. 
  2. Non-essential amino acids-  Eleven amino acids are considered non-essential amino acids. These amino acids can be made by your own body from starch. 
  3. Conditional amino acids- These conditional amino acids don’t need for your body in your daily balanced diet. These are needed in the period of sickness and injury.

Types of protein:

The combination of amino acids is to produce different types of protein. The proteins can be divided into 8 different types-
  • Defence protein- This protein is important for your immune system. This protein is known as antibodies or immunoglobulin. These antibodies are formed in your white blood cells.

  • Receptor protein-  This protein in your body protects the cell from other substances like minerals or nutrients entering the cell. The binding of ligand molecules helps to simulate receptor protein.

  • Contractile protein-  These proteins are known as motor protein since it controls the speed and contraction of a muscle in your body.  The actin and myosin protein comes under this type.

  • Enzymatic protein- This protein simulates metabolic activities like digestion, liver functions, and converting glycogen to glucose. There are categories of enzymatic proteins: Proteases, Lipases, and  Amylases based on the breaking down processes of macronutrients.

  • Hormonal protein- These proteins stimulate the chemical reaction produced by endocrine glands and give out signals to function in your body. Some hormonal proteins are insulin and Testosterone.

  • Structural protein –  This type of protein is a fibrous protein necessary for your body. Proteins like collagen, keratin, and elastin in your body belong to this type. This will help strengthen your bones, muscles, tendons, skin, and cartilage.

  • Storage protein- This protein stores the amino acids until it is needed for your body. This protein stores minerals and ions for your future use. Ferritin, Ovalbumin, and casein are some of the storage proteins.

  • Transport protein- This protein is also a carrier protein that helps carry certain minerals from one cell to another. Some examples include haemoglobin, which carries oxygen for the respiratory system, and Calbindin, which helps absorb calcium from intestinal walls.

How do we get our daily protein?

You can get protein from many sources like eating food or consuming protein supplements. 

Since the non-essential amino acids are produced by your own body the 9 essential amino acids are to be focused on our daily protein intake.

There are numerous protein-containing foods and supplements but having a balanced protein in your diet is very important. 

You can consult your nutritionist or doctor about your diet schedule before deciding on your protein intake. 

Some basic factors that need to be considered are age, body weight, activity level, pregnancy, and other medical issues. 

Based on these factors you can decide on whether taking the protein is needed or how much protein you needed on daily basis.

Foods high in Protein :

There are lots of foods available for high protein intake. Normally people consider having high protein foods since it has lower carbs and fats, which is good for your health.

Some food items which are high in protein that help to increase the protein level in your body are eggs, almonds, hemp seeds, peas, chicken breast, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, lean meat, fish, pumpkin seeds, turkey breast, shellfish, lentils,- peanut, and peanut butter.

The above food items can help in increasing your protein intake directly from the food you consume. These foods are not only for increasing your protein intake but also for maintaining or improving your health.

Protein supplements:

There is another way of consuming protein for your body which is protein supplements. Protein supplements are another form of protein intake in your body in a concentrated way.

These protein supplements are available in different ways, like protein bars, protein shakes, and protein powder

People who follow a high-protein diet benefit from having these protein supplements. Taking protein supplements is a quick way to ensure your body is satisfied with the required protein.

Protein supplements are beneficial for athletes and people going for weight management and building muscles. It is not necessary to use protein supplements if you can reach your protein goal with your food.

What are high protein diets?

A high-protein diet is a diet in which you can eat meat, fish, egg, dairy products, and vegetables rich in protein. This diet is simply about consuming a high protein and low carbohydrate plan.

Many people follow the high protein diet since it can easily match their taste preference. The dietary reference intake (DRI) says that you should take 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight. But many studies provide that taking higher protein helps in weight management.

There are many things to check before you jump into a high-protein diet. You have to consult your doctor or nutritionist regarding your health condition. This diet is not suitable for all and may cause some side effects.

Foods to have for a high-protein diet:

There are lots of varieties of food items to satisfy every person’s preference for a high protein diet. Having 100 grams of protein per day from your food is not higher or lesser.

Must avoid having foods that have refined sugar, bread, and soda. Also, you should be aware of highly processed foods and canned food that says ‘diet’ product since it has high artificial sweeteners. 

Foods like lean meat, dairy products, fish, egg, and other high-protein food items that are cooked in a mild flame or some that can consume rawly give the needed protein for your body. 

How do they work?

This high protein intake reduces the intake of carbohydrates. The protein consumed starts burning, which increases the calorie-burning higher than carbs. 

This increase in the burning of calories helps you to lose weight which is fat in your body. All this works out if you are well aware of your protein need for your body weight. Add 25 to 30 grams of protein to each of your meals.

Having your journal on every meal that consumes helps to keep track of the intake of your protein content. Having both plant and lean meat as a source of protein in your diet is important.

Drawbacks of Protein

The patient with kidney problems must avoid a high protein diet. Many evidence clinically proved that consuming a high protein diet for a kidney patient is dangerous. The high protein consumption makes the kidney work more for getting rid of excess nitrogen and other waste.

High protein intake also causes calcium loss which results in poor bone health. It may also lead to osteoporosis. This high protein intake also causes an increase in thirst and dehydration.

Having higher protein in your meal causes digestive disorders like constipation and feeling bloating which makes it difficult to digest. Sometimes consumption of a high protein diet without proper exercise causes you to gain weight.

How Much Protein do You Need?

The protein consumption may differ based on your health conditions, age, muscle mass, activity level, and physique goal. Generally, consuming 100 grams of protein intake is safe for a person.

Having 25 – 30% of daily calories as protein can help boost a person’s metabolism. On average, consuming 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of your weight improves your muscle mass and helps build muscle.

During pregnancy, the body needs more protein than normal to grow tissues and muscles, which is good for both mother and the baby. Consuming 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram for body weight is safer for pregnant women.

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