What is protein? Why are so many fitness buffs obsessed with getting lots of protein?
When you eat foods that are rich in protein, digestive acids in your stomach break down the protein molecules into amino acids. The amino acids are restructured in unique sequences throughout the body to make the necessary proteins to keep you fighting fit.
There are 22 amino acids that scientists agree are essential to human health. Out of these 22, the human body produces 13 of them without the additional intake. We receive the other 9 essential amino acids by ingesting protein-rich foods.
Protein keeps your immune system healthy, repairs tissue, and contributes to the growth of nails and hair. It’s a “macronutrient” – this means is that humans need lots of it.
Proteins from animals; meats, cheese, and eggs, are considered “complete” because they contain all of the essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins miss a few.
According to active.com, the recommendation for normal protein intake for a healthy adult is 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight per day (so, just about 80 g of protein if you weigh 220-pounds).
But more protein is recommended if you’re highly active.
Additional protein promotes muscle adaptation during recovery from exercise in several ways. It aids in the repair of damage to muscle fibers, promotes the synthesis of new proteins, training-induced adaptations in muscle fibers, and encourages the replenishment of depleted energy resources.
This isn’t to say you should bulk up on your daily protein and expect to become superhuman. In fact, the best way to take in protein is through a normal diet regimen, not enhanced methods such as powders.
Individual protein requirements can be determined by the size of an athlete and the demands of the sport; whether the activity is more so “endurance” or “strength”-oriented determines the necessary protein intake. And understand that the amount of dietary protein required for muscle recovery is markedly small, requiring only 5 to 10 grams of amino acids. This is only 20 to 40 kcal of protein!
Foods such as fish, meat, eggs, and milk are great for finding essential amino acids. If you’re an athlete, learn what protein regimen works best for you. Remember, don’t overdo it!