How many times have you heard that protein is the most important macronutrient? Or maybe you are afraid of eating too much protein and you reduced it so much.
The next macronutrient we´ll see is protein, which is primarily used to build hair, nails and various organ systems like the heart, brain and are also the building blocks for tissue. Protein is essential for muscle repair and muscle growth.
Protein is essential for the body, but it has more functions apart from building muscle fibers. Some proteins provide structure to our 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 we are on a critic situation or our body feels we 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. There are 4 calories in one gram of protein.
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 we need to get from our nutrition and eleven nonessential amino acids that our 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.
Even when protein can be found in animal and plant sources the quality of them varies and we need to consider this to make sure that we give our body the amount it needs or find ways to supplement it.
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 our body takes existing muscle and breaks it down for energy.
There are some important factors we need to consider for protein consumption which are the amount of protein we need to consume and the quality of the protein. Getting around 1.0 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 we need to adjust the numbers considering our current goal and the type of nutrition program we are following.
Protein is considered by many as the most important macronutrient for fat loss and muscle growth therefore some people increase their intake. If we are looking to lose fat considering that we are in a calorie deficit and we are doing some kind of resistance training along with some cardio, increasing the amount of protein (if we´re not taking enough) will make sure that we maintain muscle. If we want to gain muscle, we´ll need to be in a calorie surplus, we can use carbohydrate cycling and increase carbohydrates while focusing on keeping protein at 1.0 – 1.5 grams.
There are many protein sources from meat, chicken, turkey, eggs, also nuts, beans, dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt, also vegetables even when they´re all-natural sources their amino-acid profile vary. 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 our body digest the type of protein, this is key to knowing when we 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 our body needs it because our body doesn´t have to digest it.
As I said on the last post about fats, we´re going to continue talking about each different macronutrient and food in general, how unhealthy foods impact our body on a negative side and about the positive impact of healthy foods.
Let us know by leaving a comment on our Facebook and Twitter account what is your favorite source or protein, do you prefer animal sources? Or are you vegan or vegetarian?
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