Peering at Protein

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Bodybuilders are told that protein is the secret to massive muscles, while multivitamins and nutritional supplements are sold with added protein. This increase in popularity for protein is interesting, but confusing. An informed consumer might like to understand what protein means, how it affects the body, and if they need more of it. Hopefully, these facts will help with understanding protein.

Fact 1: Proteins are large molecules that support and drive biological functions. Because of their size, they are known as macromolecules. Proteins contain one or more chains of amino acids, which are necessary for a nutritious lifestyle. Amino acids can be thought of as the base of the protein and the types of amino acids that make up the protein is what distinguishes proteins from each other.

Fact 2: In the body, proteins start up metabolic processes, transport molecules, replicate DNA and allow for the body to respond to certain stimuli. Proteins are used to make up the cells of muscles, which is why bodybuilders are encourage to eat protein.

Fact 3: Animals, including humans, cannot synthesize all the essential amino acids their bodies need. Digestion breaks down the structure of the protein to let out the amino acids, and allows for the use of the protein in the body. Every cell in the human body has protein in it.

Fact 4: Many foods offer protein, so determining the best combination of protein for an individual is difficult. It will depend on what foods are available, if they are affordable, and if the individual will like the food. Injuries and diseases may prevent the proper absorption of food and amino acids.  

Fact 5: Foods that are high in protein might have anti-nutritional factors that might make them more dangerous than healthy. Meats which are high in protein could also be high in calories, fat, salt, saturated fats, and cholesterol. As such, a straight diet of meat would do more harm than good, and a healthy diet will combine meat with other sources of protein.  

Fact 6: Cereals and whole grains are sources of protein that are limited in certain amino acids, lysine and threonine. Legumes, nuts, and seeds, are all sources of vegetarian protein.

Fact 7: Milk and other dairy products are a good source of protein, but whole milk products are high in fat and calories. Tubers and roots, such as potatoes and yams are good sources of carbohydrates but poor sources of protein.

Fact 8: Different foods have differing amounts and type of amino acids. As such, a healthy diet will combine protein sources, while being mindful of calories, vitamins and other components of the foods.

Fact 9: Healthy people with a moderate exercise regime are unlikely to need protein supplements. Extreme bodybuilders and people on doctor recommended or medically necessary diets may consider protein supplements.

Fact 10: Babies have an exceptional ability to process amino acids and proteins, which is why they can absorb immunity to diseases from their mother’s milk.

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