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Protein Guide Pt.1

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What do you think about when you hear the word protein? Maybe you picture one of those ads in a bodybuilding magazine that promises you massive muscles? Maybe it’s the lastest high-protein diet craze you read about? Protein has become a buzz word for that last two decades, but with so much information available most people are clueless when it comes to the many benefits of protein.

I hope that after reading this blog you will have a better understanding about protein such as the following:

What is Protein?

What types are are there?

Why our bodies need it?

How can it help us lose weight?

What is Protein?

Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies.  Your muscles are protein-storage units much like fat deposits are fat storage units.  These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced, even at night while you sleep. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies.

Protein is found in the following foods:

  • meats, poultry, and fish
  • legumes (dry beans and peas)
  • tofu
  • eggs
  • nuts and seeds
  • milk and milk products
  • grains, some vegetables, and some fruits (provide only small amounts of protein relative to other sources)

What are the types of protein?

Proteins are made up of amino acids. Amino acids are like building blocks. There are 20 different amino acids that join together to make all types of protein. Some of these amino acids can’t be made by our bodies, so these are known as essential amino acids. It’s essential that our diet provide these.

In the diet, protein sources are labeled according to how many of the essential amino acids they provide:

complete protein source is one that provides all of the essential amino acids. Animal-based foods; for example, meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese are considered complete protein sources.

An incomplete protein source is one that is low in one or more of the essential amino acids.

Complementary proteins are two or more incomplete protein sources that together provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids.

For example, rice contains low amounts of certain essential amino acids; however, these same essential amino acids are found in greater amounts in dry beans. Similarly, dry beans contain lower amounts of other essential amino acids that can be found in larger amounts in rice.  Together, these two foods can provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids the body needs.

Why do our bodies need protein?

Protein is necessary for the building and repair of body tissues.  After an intense workout, protein helps to build up the muscles you’ve just broken down.  It produces enzymes, hormones, and other substances the body uses.  It regulates body processes, such as water balancing, transporting nutrients, and making muscles contract.  Protein keeps the body healthy by resisting diseases that are common to malnourished people.  Prevents one from becoming easily fatigued by producing stamina and energy.  So as you can see our bodies could not function without protein.

Protein is found in muscles, bone, hemoglobin, myoglobin, hormones, antibodies, and enzymes, and makes up about 45% of the human body.  Muscle is approximately 70% water and only about 20% protein. Therefore, increasing muscle mass requires extra water, extra energy in the form of carbohydrates (to maintain the needs of that extra muscle), and a little extra protein.

How can protein help me lose weight?

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they reported people who consumed larger amounts of protein had greater satisfaction, less hunger, and weight loss when fat was reduced to 20% of the total calories in their diets, protein was increased to 30%, and carbs accounted for 50%.  This is also my nutrition breakdown while I’m working out to lose weight.

Another study, reported in the Journal of Nutrition, showed that a high-protein diet combined with exercise enhanced weight and fat loss and improved blood fat levels. Researchers suggest that higher-protein diets help people better control their appetites and calorie intake.

Diets higher in protein and moderate in carbs, along with a lifestyle of regular exercise are often suggested by experts to reduce blood fats and maintain lean tissue while burning fat for fuel without dieters being sidetracked with constant hunger.

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