Protein is an important nutrient for everyone, not just athletes and body builders. That doesn’t mean you need to start drinking protein shakes every day. Most people can get the protein that they need from a healthy and balanced diet. Here’s why protein is important, how much protein you need each day, and some great protein-rich foods.
What is protein?
Protein is one of three primary macronutrients (the others being carbohydrate and fat). Macronutrients are the chemical compounds that humans ingest the most of, and which provide us with most of our energy. Proteins consist of amino acids, and are the most commonly found molecules in cells.
Our bodies can produce most of the amino acids we need to stay healthy, but there are nine amino acids that we cannot produce, and must consume through diet. The nine amino acids that our body cannot produce are called essential amino acids.
Why is protein important?
Humans can’t survive without all nine essential amino acids. Protein is essential to building bones,and body tissues, such as muscles, but protein does much more than that. Protein participates in practically every process of a cell. It plays a part in metabolic reactions, immune response, protein provides a source of energy, assists in cellular repair, form blood cells, and more.
How much protein do you need?
Protein provides the same energy density as carbohydrates. However, the body does not store proteins in the same way it stores carbohydrates and fats. This means that you need to consume protein everyday. There are differing opinions about just how much protein you need each day, however. This is due in part to the number of things that affect how much protein your body needs.