Protein is essential for life! Like the other macronutrients - fat and carbohydrates, we need it for a variety of reasons. But unlike the other two, our body doesn’t store protein, so we need some of those every day and here is why...
Three types of amino acids in our body:
The nonessential and conditional types are made by the body as needed, but the essential type has to come from protein in our food and cannot be made by our body.
The essential amino acids in protein keep us healthy by working in the background making new cells, enzymes and various hormones to keep our body functioning optimally. Most people recognize it as building muscle and losing weight.
When we exercise, the protein in muscle cells is damaged. Part of the recovery phase is called protein breakdown where the damaged cells are purged from the muscle. The other part of recovery is replacing the purged cells and adding new ones making for more muscle mass.
Because it takes more calories to support more muscle, metabolism is sped up and the body ends up burning more calories than before – even while at rest – known as the Basal Metabolic Rate.
Most diet plans focus on controlling carbs to help their customers lose weight. It is true that in the short-term, a calorie deduction of 500 per day each day should result in a loss of one pound per week.
And how protein helps create that calorie deduction?
It keeps one feeling fuller longer, so there is less of a tendency to grab a snack (more than likely one that is not healthy) between meals. Because the craving to eat is not there, fewer calories are consumed.
Because it is harder for the body to breakdown than either fat or carbs, the body uses some of the calories in protein to break it down – known as the thermic effect. For every 100 protein calories consumed, 30 are used in the thermic effect.
From building new cells for hair, nails, to balancing out enzymes and hormones, to building muscle and reducing calorie intake, it is easy to see why we need some it each day. On average, about 8 grams of protein from meats, dairy, eggs, tofu, and legumes per 20 pounds of body weight is required each day for optimal body performance