Protein is an essential nutrient that we need on a daily basis.
Proteins have important functions in the body. They are used for building muscles and bones. They form antibodies that are important for the immune system. Also, enzymes are made of proteins. All the metabolic processes in our bodies need enzymes.
Proteins consist of smaller units called amino acids. There are 22 different types of amino acids. They can be classified into essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids can not be made by the body and must be obtained from food or supplements. Non-essential amino acids can be made by the body.
Protein sources are also classified as complete protein and incomplete protein. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities. They come from animal sources such as eggs, milk, poultry, meat, and fish.
Incomplete proteins have a low content or lack one or more of the essential amino acids. They can be obtained from plant sources such as vegetables, seeds, and nuts. These incomplete proteins should be combined to obtain sufficient quantities of the essential amino acids.
The amount of protein we need daily differs from one person to another due to many factors such as age, sex, and activity. Generally speaking, pregnant and nursing mothers need more protein than other women. Athletes need considerably more proteins than sedentary people because working out causes the breakdown of muscles and consequent muscle repair. The greater the frequency and intensity of their workouts, the more protein they need.
Protein is a good choice for weight loss. Proteins take longer to digest and so they make a person feel fuller. Therefore, they are likely to enhance the compliance in weight loss programs since they delay hunger. Aging men also need more protein since it helps in preserving the lean muscle mass. Vegetarians and vegans need to eat a healthy variety of foods and to plan carefully in order to obtain the needed amount of protein for their body.
It is essential to consume the right amount of protein because the body can only store a small pool of amino acids. We should, therefore, consume proteins regularly. Protein deficiency can lead to the inability to form the proteins needed by the body due to the lack of essential amino acids.
It is associated with symptoms such as moodiness, stress, constant craving for sweets, poor immunity, and brain fatigue. However, too much protein consumption has been associated with serious conditions such as kidney disease, prostate cancer, and diabetes.
The required daily allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.36 gram of protein for each pound of the body weight. You can use an online protein calculator to determine the protein amount you should consume daily. You can easily obtain the RDA from food by increasing your protein intake.
But if you are not getting the protein you need from food, you can use protein powders. The choice depends on the price, taste and whether it dissolves well in milk or water.