6 Jun 2019 13:37PM
Protein is one of our essential macronutrients, along with fat and carbohydrates. It has a number of important functions including building tissue, cells and muscle and making hormones and anti-bodies.
Everyone needs protein in their diets but it is especially important when it comes to your training due to its muscle building benefits.
This month therefore we will focus on what protein is, how it’s used in the body and what sources are available to help you reach your protein target.
What is protein
Proteins are a compound made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids used to build them. These amino acids all have unique properties which support the body in different ways. Proteins that contain all of these amino acids are called complete proteins. Dairy and meat are considered complete, but buckwheat, quinoa, soy and Quorn can also provide the complete amino acid profile. It is also possible to combine two or more incomplete protein sources to obtain the complete profile, therefore it is important to have a healthy balanced diet to achieve this.
How do we use it?
Protein has a number of important uses in the body:
- Used as energy when there is a shortage of fats and carbohydrates
- Building tissue, cells and muscle
- Making hormones & antibodies
- Used as an enzyme to start reactions in the body including metabolism, growth and repair
- Allowing for communication between different cells or transporting molecules around the body
Sources of protein
Eggs, 6g per one large egg
Salmon, 23g per 3-oz serving
Chicken, 24g per 3-oz serving
Milk, 8g per 1-cup
Tuna, 22g per 3-oz serving
Greek yogurt, 23g per 8-oz serving
Tofu, 12g per 3-oz serving
Lentils, 13g per 1/4 cup
Steak, 23g per 3-oz serving
Edamame beans, 8g per 1/2 cup
Peanut butter, 8g per 2-tbsp
Protein and exercise
As mentioned protein is responsible for rebuilding your muscle tissues after exercise. When we exercise we cause damage to our tissues which in turn gives our body the reason to rebuild the muscle to become stronger. This is where protein becomes essential when recovering from exercise. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. As a general rule those who are regularly active should aim for 1g protein per pound of body weight.