Protein 101 – What Is Protein?

Yes, You do Need It

Protein is always being talked about by people at the gym. “Gotta get my protein!” or “Did you get enough protein today, Bro?” So what really is protein? What is all the hype about? What are the benefits to protein and why is it so important and necessary for our bodies to get enough of it throughout the day? Try to think of protein as the “handyman” of the body. Protein goes to work every day with an essential job of building and repairing the tissues and structures all throughout the body. Without the “protein handyman” doing its job of repairing and building, the structures and tissues we use often will become weak and overused throughout time.

Protein is the Handyman

Every handyman has lots of different tools and building blocks that are utilized with different jobs they have. Protein has a structure made up of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. Those amino acids act as the handyman’s building blocks and repairing tools in the body. The two categories of amino acids are essential and nonessential. Essential amino acids are not manufactured or made within the body which means that they can only be taken from and external source through food or supplement. Non-essential amino acids are manufactured within the body from dietary nitrogen and fragments of carbohydrate and fat. In order to repair and build within the body, these essential and nonessential amino acids are sequenced together. There are twenty amino acids that are used to build the different variety of proteins within the body. There are eight essential, ten non-essential, and the last two remaining amino acids are considered semi-essential because the body cannot produce them on its own at a rate that will support growth.

Amino Acids

  • Essential: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine
  • Non-Essential: Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine
  • Semi-Essential: Arginine and Histidine

Good Sources of Protein

There are many sources of protein that we are able to obtain through food. A complete protein is when the source provides appropriate ratios of amino acids needed for the body. An incomplete protein is when the source does not do its job of providing all the essential amino acids or may be lacking in one. When there is a case that the amino acid that is lacking in the protein is it then called the limiting factor. Complete proteins can be found in animal sources such as dairy and meats. Incomplete proteins include grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables.

The main sources that we see every day of incomplete proteins are barley, corn, earl, oats, buckwheat, pasta, rye, wheat, beans, lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, soy products, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews, and other types of nuts. If you choose to combine some of the incomplete proteins then you are increasing your chances of obtaining all the essential amino acids therefore forming a complete protein. Some examples of complete proteins are eggs, meat and poultry, fish, yogurt and granola, and hummus.

There are many sources of proteins out in our world so that you will never become bored of obtaining it in one certain way. Now you will be able to join the discussion of what exactly is Protein and why it is beneficial for you. Protein is awesome and absolutely necessary for everyone.

 

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