Protein, much like our other macronutrients, is an important part of our diet. But what exactly does it do for us and why is it so important? Let’s take a beat to break it down:
What is it?
- Protein is an essential part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our body. Proteins are made of small compounds call amino acids. There are hundreds of amino acids that exist in nature, but our body can only utilize 22 of them.
- Our body can make all but 9 amino acids, which are termed essential, because we need to get them through food.
- Meat, poultry, seafood, poultry, milk, eggs, and cheese are our animal based and complete (contain all 9 essential amino acids) sources of protein.
- Rice, beans, nuts and seeds, tofu, etc are a few incomplete (do not contain all 9 essential amino acids) plant based proteins.
What does it do?
- During periods of growth (infancy, childhood and pregnancy) our bodies demand protein for growth to occur.
- Protein needs also increase to aid recovery during injuries, after surgery, and for those who are highly active.
- Day to day, protein is needed to maintain (or build, depending on your goals) lean muscle mass and recover muscles after a workout. It is also helps to stay satisfied longer between meals
- Protein is also important to keep our immune systems healthy