Now that we already know the remarkable functions of protein in our body, let us see some other important details about protein. In this second part of our Ultimate Guide on Proteins, we discuss its composition, relationship to the growth of muscles, types of protein supplements to choose from and some food sources.
When we talk about proteins, it is vital to discuss its composition. Remember amino acids? These are the smaller building blocks which are chain-like in appearance, and which, when joined together, comprises our proteins. These amino acids have 20 different kinds that can be put together in various combinations making up the millions of proteins in our body. One protein may consist of as low as 50, to tens of thousands of amino acids. These can either be made by the human body, our non-essential amino acids, or can be supplied to our body, our essential amino acids, through our diet.
Relevance of Protein Composition
When amino acids attach to each other through the peptide bonds, it creates polypeptides, which are various types of sequences or chains. These polypeptides, upon reaching a size and structure appropriate enough, then becomes a protein. This now is the protein that functions for our body to perform tasks, such as the stimulation and regulation of cell growth and division. This particular function is particularly important in muscle building.
Protein and Muscle Growth
What then is the role of protein in muscle growth? It is important to note, that in consideration of building muscle mass, individuals must take the right amount and kind of protein to maximize its benefits.
Protein Consumption and Muscle Building
So does the consumption of more protein equate to muscle growth? The answer is NO. Medical research has shown that consumption of protein more than 30% of one’s daily caloric intake, can harm the body. This is based on protein expert Gail
Adding protein consumption in your daily diet, partnered with additional calories or exercise will help build muscle mass. According to a study published in 1992 by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the increase in protein intake plus an increase in caloric intake while still performing the same exercise help in the build-up of equal amounts of fats and muscle mass.
If there is an increase in protein consumption without added calories or exercises, other body organs may undergo stress. This may cause a buildup of ketones which then forces your kidneys to work so hard to flush these ketones from the body, therefore, also stressing the heart. This process contributes to the loss of a significant amount of water from the body, putting you at risk for dehydration. This water loss often reflects as weight loss because along with this, individuals also lose muscle mass and bone calcium. Now, this is not a good thing especially if you are a dedicated bodybuilder.
With the rise of the vegan diet nowadays, it is no surprise that plant-based proteins are also gaining popularity. Numerous reasons trigger this like health or religious beliefs, animal protection advocacy, and more. Whatever the reason, it still boasts of providing adequate nutritional requirements for its end consumers. It is recommended to eat various plant-based sources of protein to achieve the needed amount of amino acids. Some sources are lentils, quinoa, peanuts, and tofu.
- Tofu and soybeans. This is said to have the richest source of proteins amongst plants.
- Lentils. Aside from proteins, you can also get fiber, iron,
andpotassium from this source.
- Peanuts. Protein-rich and improves the health of your heart.
- Chickpeas. May be eaten hot or cold. Highest protein content can be benefited from cooked source.
- Almonds. Aside from protein, this is also a great source of Vitamin E.
For bodybuilders, this is a more popular choice since this aids more in building muscle mass. Additionally, this also contributes greatly to muscle recovery after a rigorous workout.
- Seafoods. Usually low in fat, making it an excellent source of protein. Food sources – fish, shrimp
- White meat poultry. This is for your lean protein source. Food source – chicken & turkey meat
- Dairy products. These are not only excellent sources of food but is also rich in calcium. Food sources – milk, cheese, yogurt
- Eggs. These are one of the lesser expensive sources of protein. Egg whites contain the most protein.
- Red meat. Lean beef not only tastes good but is also very high in protein.
These are concentrated sources of protein. This has shown to be in demand amongst bodybuilders. There are a variety of options that one can choose from according to their sources.
This comes from water-soluble milk. This type has consistently proven its ability to contribute to muscle growth and recovery. During the process of making cheese, the liquid that separates from the curds is what we call whey protein. A complete protein that it is, this type of supplement is digested quickly and contains a rich source of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). This amino acid contributes greatly to muscle growth and muscle recovery after endurance and resistance exercises. Once digested and distributed into the bloodstream, it is then ready for the creation of a new muscle.
Next is casein protein which is also derived from milk. However, this one has a slower digestion and absorption rate in the body. This is because casein produces a gel during interaction with the stomach acid, which results in a gradual absorption of amino acids into the bloodstream. It results to more steady muscle growth. This is particularly beneficial after an exercise since the protein source is rich in glutamine, which is an amino acid that helps speed up muscle recovery.
This is an excellent source of high-quality protein and is easily digested. Typically sourced from egg whites rather than the whole egg, this gives you less feeling of fullness since the high-fat yolks have been removed. This is a very good source of essential amino acids.
For vegans and those with allergies to dairy products, this is a popular choice. This is sourced from fiber-rich legume which contains all, except for one, of the essential amino acids. Also a rich source of BCAAs, pea protein has a comparably slower rate of digestion than whey protein but is digested faster than casein protein. In addition, it also has the ability to give you that feeling of fullness just like the dairy protein.
Also, plant-sourced, this supplement has been steadily gaining its popularity. While more research has yet to be done, it does appear to be well-digested and also contains several essential amino acids.
Mixed Plant Protein
Normally, two or more protein sources are combined to produce this. This has slower digestion than the animal proteins and has the tendency to limit the amino acids which the body normally needs immediately after exercise.
How Much Protein Do We Need?
The answer to this will depend on your weight and how much caloric intake one has in a day. According to the recommended daily allowances (RDA) set by the Food and Nutrition Board, for every pound of body weight, one should consume 0.36 grams of protein. So let us say, you weigh 200 lbs, your protein consumption in a day should be 72 grams. However, for bodybuilders, to be able to build muscle, 1 gram of protein is actually needed per pound of body weight. So using the same weight above, this time a bodybuilder, protein consumption should be 200 grams.
From here, you should have a good picture already of how much of your favorite protein sources you should be having daily.
Protein has always proven itself to be very beneficial in our bodily functions. With the proper consumption, partnered with the correct caloric intake and enough amount of exercise, one is definitely able to achieve the fitness goal that he dreams of.
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