Protein is one of the essential building blocks of body tissues. It is a polymer chain made of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. During human digestion, proteins are broken down in the stomach to smaller polypeptide chains via hydrochloric acid and protease actions. This is crucial for the synthesis of the essential amino acids that cannot be biosynthesized by the body.
There are nine amino acids that humans do not produce but are needed for protein production. A person must consume them from diet in order to prevent protein malnutrition. Here’s the nine amino acids and their primary sources.
1. Phenylalanine – found naturally in the breast milk of mammals.
2. Valine – meats, dairy products, soy products, beans and legumes.
3. Threonine – synthesized from aspartate in bacteria such as E. coli.
4. Tryptophan – cereals, pasta and cheese
5. Methionine – lamb, beef, soy and poultry
6. Leucine – eggs, soy and fish
7. Isoleucine – synthesized from pyruvate employing leucine biosynthesis enzymes in other organisms such as bacteria
8. Lysine – red meat, poultry, legumes, cheese
9. Histidine – meat, poultry, dairy, seafood.
High-protein diet makes feel full longer but has less calories. In your weight loss journey, protein is important because it slows down digestion, thus, making you more satisfied. This prevents you from eating many times during work-out.
Cravings are due to your blood sugar skyrocketing. Pairing protein foods with carbohydrate rich foods will slow down the absorption of sugar in your stomach into your blood stream. Protein helps in maintaining your blood sugar levels through this.
Protein requires more energy to digest. The “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is the energy we use to digest food into small, absorbable components. Protein has a higher TEF compared to carbs and fat. This means you’re actually burning more calories to process protein than to process the other two.
Your body cannot burn fat without the help of carbohydrates or protein. So if you are cutting on the carbs, you will need protein to fuel fat burning. Having protein in your diet preserves the lean muscle you have in your body while burning your fats.
Protein promotes muscle repair and growth. During work out, we tear our muscles by straining it. Protein is the building blocks that you need to repair the damages of the workout. It is really helpful to increase your protein intake on days that you work-out. Muscle grows fast during exercises because it is more sensitive to nutrients when strained.
Just like carbs and fat, too much protein is bad for your health, too. Urea is the waste-product of protein synthesis and it is bad for the kidney especially if you already have problems excreting excess urea.
According to the experts, the ideal protein intake of a person for body building should be 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of your body weight. Taking in too much protein could lead to inflammation of the kidneys that makes you experience lower back pains. However, you stomach can digest up to 25-30 grams of protein per sitting so increasing your intake up to 10 grams would not present much of a problem.