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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Protein - A Key Ingredient in Body Composition and Overall Health

Hello everyone! Thank you for letting me take the day off from blogging yesterday. I wasn't feeling the best, but I'm all better now after some extra sleep and a lot of water! :)

So, let's get right to it shall we? We've already discussed two of the three main macronutrients that our bodies need to function properly: carbohydrates and fat. The third macronutrient we will be discussing is protein. The photo above is a computer-generated image of amino acids (Looks like gift wrapping ribbon to I guess that means that every time you ingest protein, your body throws a party! - I like it! :). When the protein in our diet is digested, it is broken down into strands of amino acids (22 key amino acids) and then used to build and/or rebuild the tissue in our organs and muscles. Without protein, our bodies would cease to exist.

Our diets are very important when it comes to maintaining healthy amounts of protein within the body, as there are nine amino acids which can only be obtained through the diet. Protein can be found in lean cuts of red meat, the white meat of poultry, fish, nuts and/or seeds(almonds and/or walnuts are great sources of protein), dairy (Greek yogurt has high protein content and low calories/fat), eggs, legumes, protein powder (whey concentrate - cheapest and lowest rated by most in the health industry, whey protein isolate, brown rice protein, rice protein isolate, spirulina, casein, soy - men should limit their soy intake...I'll get into it later), hydrolysate (considered the best of the best by many), egg protein powder, hemp protein), etc.

Omnivores have it easier when it comes to getting enough protein; however, it's not impossible for vegetarians and/or vegans to get enough protein too. They just have to work a little harder at it. This is due to the fact that protein which comes from animal sources is complete protein: it provides all nine amino acids needed by the body at once. Protein from fruits and vegetables, however, is incomplete protein. It must be consumed with another type of protein-rich food in order for the body to obtain all the amino acids it needs (i.e. black beans and lentils would provide all the amino acids together, but not individually).

Getting enough protein is beneficial to the body for obvious reasons concerning muscle and organ growth/maintenance and it is also helpful in promoting weight loss or gain. Ingesting protein with each meal helps the body feel full faster and keeps the feeling long after the meal is completed. This is why protein snack bars have become so popular (but these can be misleading as many are loaded with sugar, simple carbohydrates, bad fats, and the labels people!!!). Eating enough protein helps the body lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (Still noticing the trend?). Click here for more information on protein.

As we get older, our bodies need more protein on a daily basis, with men typically needing more protein than women. Men over the age of 18 with normal diets need to consume around 55-60 grams of protein per day. Women over the age of 18 with normal diets need to consume around 45-50 grams of protein per day. 

If you are trying to lose or gain weight, the basic rule in the health industry is to eat the amount of protein which matches the weight you want to be, with a maximum protein intake of 35% of your daily caloric intake. It is especially beneficial to consume protein within 30 minutes - 2 hours after a workout. Recent studies have proven that those who ingest protein immediately after a workout increase their muscle mass and drop body fat percentages faster than those who don't. Click here to learn more about consuming protein after a workout.

Eating too much protein is dangerous - don't over-do it. Extra protein is considered fat by the body and is stored as such, so always eat it in moderation just like everything else. Click here for more information about proper daily protein intake and here.

Have a great day!!! See you tomorrow!

*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

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