Why is protein important for our health? Let’s be clear. Proteins are present in all living organisms and have different functions. The main one is the plastic function (BODY GROWTH). In cases of need or excess they can be used to produce energy.
The average composition of a protein is 50-55% carbon, 6-7.3% hydrogen, 19-24% oxygen, 15-19% nitrogen. Even if other elements (sulphur) are almost always present in small percentage. Proteins are extremely complex, but if we could observe them closely, we would realize that they are nothing more than long chains of simple molecules, the amino acids.
Why is protein important and what are amino acids? Amino acids are small components, “the basic building blocks”, of proteins. The large molecules that provide growth and health of the body. Included MUSCLE, ligaments, bones, HAIR, nails, enzymes and hormones.
Amino acids contain an amino function (-NH2). The only form of nitrogen that can be assimilated by our body. And an acid function (-COOH) linked to the same carbon atom. There are 20 amino acids and they differ only in the organic function, called lateral chain, which gives them different properties.
Proteins vary not only in the number and types of amino acids they are composed of, but also in the order in which they are placed in the chain. The sequence of amino acids is called the primary structure. Our organism is able to break down proteins until they break down into individual amino acids.
Then uses them to compose the proteins of our tissues. Of the 20 amino acids only 8 are considered essential. Our organism is not able to synthesize them, but they must necessarily be taken in the diet. These are leucine, isoleucine, methionine, valine, threonine, lysine, phenylalanine and tryptophan.
Why is protein important?
The functions that proteins perform in the body are many. They are necessary for the growth, maintenance and repair of cells. For the production of enzymes, hormones and those substances that control our hereditary traits. Proteins are the main components of muscle tissue, internal organs, skin, hair and bone.
Proteins also play a role in the functioning of memory. In the transmission of the nervous impulse. In the regulation of osmotic pressure, of PH balance, of blood pressure and of its glucose rate. That’s why is protein important, and that’s why are “decisive” in the body’s homeostasis.
Some proteins act as antibodies. Some are important in blood clotting processes. Others are involved in the transport of nutrients and oxygen through the bloodstream (enzymes). The substances that catalyze and control all chemical processes in the body, are made of proteins.
Unlike carbohydrates and lipids, the body does not store protein. About 65% of the protein are present in the muscles. Is very important for the body the process by which (thanks to the use of proteins) the tissues are synthesized and the balance established. Between construction (anabolism) and destruction (catabolism), after intense physical activity (for example).
Under some conditions, the body dismembers the proteins contained in the muscle to obtain energy. If the proteins taken are insufficient ,the construction phase cannot restore the muscle losses in the catabolic phase. There will therefore be a loss of muscle mass.
There is still a natural limits of muscle growth. The protein catabolism increases in situations of carbohydrate deficiency. If you take too much protein, those in excess are transformed into fat deposits. The waste is eliminated in urine with an overload of the kidney that must purify the blood for its subsequent elimination.
The protein requirements are between 0.8 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. This quota is standardized to meet the needs of the “average population” and does not take into lifestyle. Some conditions increase the protein requirement. This is the case of children, pregnant women, athletes, and people who perform heavy physical work.
A bodybuilder needs a higher protein intake, and this for various reasons. First of all to synthesize new proteins for the higher percentage of lean mass. Since it has more muscles than a sedentary (sedentary=40%, bodybuilder=65% ).
Consider that some proteins are used for energy purposes and a small amount is eliminated with SWEAT. In addition, an athlete has a protein turn over much higher than a sedentary. All processes of destruction and reconstruction (catabolism-anabolism) that affect protein molecules occur faster.
Considering all these factors, bodybuilders are indicating a daily protein requirement of two grams per kilogram of body weight. Even if larger quantities have not highlighted any kind of problem at an organic level.
We are not able to “assimilate” more than 30-50 g of protein at a time, but 30 is a different number from 50. The most logical solution is to divide the body weight by two. For example, if you weigh 80 kg, you need to take about 40 g of protein per meal. Better if the calculation is made on the lean mass. The more proteins you take, the more muscles you increase? Wrong.
The protein is a “means” used in relation to a stimulus. It is training that determines the demand for protein in the body, and it is rest that favors its synthesis. Remember that in the period in which we don’t train, the protein intake must be reduced. Otherwise, an excess would cause a high production of urine with consequent renal fatigue.