Your new best friend, Protein
Would you try to build something without the required materials? Would you try to build a house without bricks, roofing material and timber? Of course not. Trying to build an optimally healthy body without protein is just as impossible. It is the building block of everything in the body. Important? Absolutely.
Proteins are made up of smaller particles known as Amino Acids. There are 20 known amino acids, 9 of which are essential and need to be derived through your diet as the body cannot produce them.
Animal proteins typically are a complete protein which means they contain all 20 amino acids in sequence, plant-based proteins are incomplete proteins which means that the do not contain the entire 20. This simply means that Vegetarians and Vegans need to consume a good variety of food sources throughout the day to ensure that all amino acids are consumed - particularly the essential nine required to be consumed through the diet.
The great thing about protein is that it takes the body longer to break it down which means it takes more energy to burn the fuel. Excess protein does not get stored as fat, whatever is required for the above uses then the excess is excreted from the body. However, the fat content that is consumed as a component of the food, does and will get stored if there is excess.
Purpose of Protein.
· Building block of every cell in the body
· Regulate chemical reactions such as digestion & synthesis of cholesterol by the liver
· Regulate blood glucose
· Build and maintain your immune system against bacteria and viruses
· Maintain fluid balance throughout the body
· Transports nutrients throughout the body
· Provide structure to bone, teeth, skin hair and nails.
· Helps us feel full and satisfied for longer
Some are enzymes, some are Hormones, some provide structure, some are antibodies, some transport, some maintain the balance of fluid, protein can also be used as a back-up energy source in case of emergency.
Ensure you have protein with each and every meal, including snacks. In fact, if you can make snacks exclusively protein-based is ideal.
If optimal health is a desire of you or for someone you care about - do yourself a favour and complete a food diary for a minimum of 7 days. I recommend the MyFitnessPal app which has a great tool you could use. It will make you aware of your current macro levels and where you may need to make changes.
Just think of it like a nutritional budget, no different to what you do when you are looking to move forward with your finances, becoming aware is the first step.
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