The first macronutrient we´ll see is protein, which is primarily used to build hair, nails and various organ systems and are also the building blocks for tissue. Protein is essential for muscle repair and muscle growth. There are 4 calories in one gram of protein.
Protein is essential for the body but it has more functions apart from building muscle fibers. Some proteins provide structure to your body, to bones, skin, teeth, hair, nails; others provide antibodies to defend against viruses or bacteria. Protein is not used as a source of energy unless you are on a critic situation or your body feels you are on starvation and there´s no other source of energy left.
Protein is made of amino acids that create long chains called amino peptides, the structure of an amino acid is made of hydrogen, carbon, amino group, carboxyl group and a side chain. The side chain varies among each amino acid and is what gives each amino acid it´s name.
Protein comes from different sources including animals and plants. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and can be divided in two groups: essential and nonessential amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids that you need to get from your nutrition and eleven nonessential amino acids that your body can make on its own. The nine essential amino acids also called branched chain amino acids are the ones that have a bigger impact on building muscle.
One thing to consider about protein is something called protein turnover which is the protein synthesis and protein breakdown. Protein synthesis is the building of new muscle using the amino acids, and protein breakdown is when your body takes existing muscle and breaks it down for energy.
There are some important factors you need to consider for protein consumption which are the amount of protein you need to consume and the quality of the protein. Getting around 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is good place to start if you want to protect muscle mass, there´s not an exact number you may need more or less protein so you need to adjust the numbers considering you current goal and the type of nutrition program you are following.
Protein is consider by many as the most important macronutrient for weight loss and gaining muscle this is why some people increase their intake. If you are looking to lose weight considering that you are in a calorie deficit and you are doing some kind of resistance training along with some cardio, increasing the amount of protein will make sure that you maintain your muscle. If you want to gain muscle, you´ll need to be in a calorie surplus, you can use carbohydrate cycling and increase carbohydrates while focusing on keeping protein at 1.5 grams.
Some people adjust their macro nutrient ratios getting about 50% from protein, 25% fats and 25% carbohydrates. There are many protein sources from meat, chicken, turkey, eggs, also nuts, beans, dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt, also vegetables and they´re all natural foods. Another way some fitness experts, and athletes consume protein is by supplements in the form of protein bars, protein powders and you can find different sources or type of protein including whey, casein, isolated and some others, the difference between them is the time of absorption, how fast or slow your body digest the type of protein, this is key to knowing when you must consume each type to have better results.
Protein shakes are famous for pre/post workout meals and also as meal replacements, as you know I don´t like to use supplements but if I did, I would take protein shakes as a post workout meal considering that liquid nutrition gets faster to where your body needs it because your body doesn´t have to digest it.
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