What is protein?
A protein is an organic compound that consists of one or more amino acid chain. They are essential parts of every living organism. Proteins are normally considered as the primary building blocks of the body. They are the main structural components of various parts of the body including the muscles, skin, organs, tendons, neurotransmitters, hormones and enzymes. For any living thing, life is impossible without protein.
Looking at their structure, proteins are composed of small molecules i.e. amino acids. Amino acids are normally joined together to form a string or bead-like structures. A linked amino acid chain can be folded to produce complex protein shapes. Proteins come in different qualities and quantities based on their sources. An animal source of protein contains the right ratio of the essential amino acids. This is because animal tissues are almost similar to the human tissues. Although animal proteins are good, the body also needs other sources of proteins. You can obtain protein from fruits, vegetables as well as protein supplements.
Types of Protein
There are two main types of proteins: complete and incomplete. A human being needs these two types of protein. Note that the main building blocks of proteins are amino acids and they are over 20. Essential amino acids can’t be produced by the body on its own hence they are derived from foods. A complete protein contains nine essential amino acids which the body needs to develop new proteins. Example of protein that is complete includes animal sources. Incomplete proteins lack or more essential amino acids. Example of proteins that are incomplete include sources such as nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits. The body does not store amino acids. This means that it needs daily fresh supply in order for it to make new proteins. A complete or incomplete protein plays a crucial role in the whole development process. It is therefore important for a person to consume a wide variety of protein in order to cater to and meet the daily protein demands of the body.
Synthetic or Artificial Protein
Although protein can be found in certain plants and animals, they can also be manufactured. Most protein supplements contain artificial protein which is mostly used to supply the body with the essential nutrients and to enhance the process of weight loss. They are usually man-made molecules which mimic the characteristics of organic proteins. Although synthetic protein is usually described as easily digestible and effective, they contain GMO products which can have serious side effects to the user.
Daily Protein Intake
How much protein a day is good for your health? Well according to the Recommended Dietary Allowance, a person should consume a modest amount of 0.8g per a kilogram of their body weight. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is the number of nutrients which the body needs in order to meet the basic nutritional requirements. This is the minimum amount that a healthy human being needs to keep them from falling sick and not what you are supposed to consume daily. If you want to check your recommended dietary allowance, you can use an online protein calculator to find out.
What is the Function of Proteins?
What does protein do? Well, these complex molecules have numerous crucial roles in the body. They have a wide range of functions, from cell functions to the regulation of different body organs and tissues. A protein such as an immunoglobulin is an antibody. It helps to bind certain foreign particles like bacteria and viruses thereby protecting the body. They are enzymatic proteins which help to facilitate thousands of chemical reactions. They also help to form new cell molecules.
Proteins can be transporters as well as storage units. They bind and carry small molecules and atoms throughout the body and within cells. Apart from those, a messenger protein contains hormones which enhance communication coordination between cells, organs, and tissues. Furthermore, a protein can be a structural component that provides support and structure for cells. Overall, they help to facilitate body movements. Proteins are used in supplements to aid the process of weight loss. Currently, there are numerous protein supplements which are designed to enhance the metabolism of fat and to curb hunger. They help to promote cell metabolism, suppress appetite and reduce food cravings which lead to weight loss.
Good Sources of Protein
Proteins have a lot of benefits and that is why they are essential for growth and development. However, a lot of packaged foods contain artificial proteins which can be harmful to your health. Some of the best protein sources include:
Seafood and White-Meat
These two types of food are considered among the top high protein diet. Seafood, for instance, is one of the best high protein low carb foods that are low in fat. it contains omega-3 fatty acids which help to improve the heart-health, mental focus, alertness etc. protein-rich seafood include salmon, tuna, tilapia, and many others. White poultry meat is an excellent source of lean protein.
Milk, Cheese, Yogurt and Eggs
These dairy products are considered some of the best protein sources. They contain essential minerals such as calcium and most of them are fortified with Vitamin D. Eggs, on the other hand, are some of the cheapest and the best protein forms. According to the American Heart Association, a normal and healthy adult should take one egg daily.
This is also one of the best protein sources. Lean beef contains saturated fat and its rich in essential minerals and vitamins such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 among others.
Fruits and Vegetables
Research studies show that a 50g of soy protein, when taken, can lower the levels of cholesterol by up to 2 percent. Eating soy is good for the heart health. Eggs are nutritious sources of protein that are rich in fiber. Not only do they enhance the development of lean muscles but they also promote the feeling of fullness. Fruits and vegetables are considered as the best sources of plant-based proteins. Avocado, kiwifruit, apricots, bananas, peaches, blackberries, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, corn etc.
A high protein low carb diet is excellent especially if you want to lose weight. Black beans, for instance, contain antioxidants which help to fight free and damaging radicals from the body. Pistachios and unsweetened Greek yogurt are excellent snacks while fish is a highly nutritious source of protein. If you don’t have enough time to prepare a meal, you can grab a protein supplement and consume it on the go. If you want to lose weight, it depends on how much protein a day you consume. Ensure that you eat foods which have a high protein blend for a prolonged feeling of satiety and reduced food cravings.
Benefits of Proteins
Proteins are essential ingredients of the human diet. They help to promote various aspects of growth and development. Their numerous, safe and healthy benefits are the reason why they are used in many meal replacement supplements. They have a wide range of benefits which include:
Weight Loss and Regulation of Blood Cholesterol
There are numerous benefits which are associated with the consumption of protein. First, they help to aid in weight loss. Numerous studies have shown that consuming foods which have high amounts of protein can lead to the development of a lean body with toned muscles. This is because it helps to curb hunger pangs by suppressing the consumer’s appetite and reducing food cravings. Apart from that, they also help to lower the level of blood cholesterol. Although they increase the total level of total cholesterol, they also help to lower the “bad” cholesterol.
Asthma and Cardiovascular Disease
Its been established that protein-rich food helps to reduce the effect of asthma in children. Foods and beverages which contain high amounts of protein help to reduce the blood pressure in the body. In addition to that, whey protein is sometimes administered to patients with hypertension. This is because this compound helps to reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Side Effects of Protein
Does protein have negative side effects? There are a number of health problems which have been associated with protein. A high protein diet has been associated with medical conditions such as osteoporosis and kidney damage. Note that too much protein is also not good for weight loss but for muscle development.
Manufactured protein supplements, for example, whey protein has been highly linked to kidney problems, weak bones etc. Eating high amounts of protein can increase the pressure inside the kidneys. This causes the kidneys to filter large amounts of blood than usual leading to kidney damage.
Some people cannot digest protein-rich foods hence they might end up experiencing digestive problems such as the irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, stomach cramps, gassing, bloating among others. When it comes to dairy sources of protein, lactose is usually the main ingredient. However, some people are intolerant to lactose hence they bodies cannot produce enough enzyme lactase that the body requires in order to process lactose.
Overall, protein is essential for every aspect of the human life. They are needed for organ function, chemical reactions, communication, body movements as well as growth and development. The quality of the protein also matters. Dairy sources of proteins usually have are usually the best and of high-quality. This is because, animals, just like human beings have similar body tissues. However, if you are intolerant to lactose, there are also vegan-friendly protein which consists of natural plant-based compounds.