It is a well known fact that the perfect diet must supply your body with all the essential nutrients that the body can not synthesise by itself. Your diet must have the right combination of essential nutrients such as Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Among the five components of nutrients, protein has the most important role in keeping your body healthy and fit. Whether you are on a ‘diet’ or are wanting to lose fat, gain muscle or even just maintain, you need a lot more protein than what we have been told.
What is Protein?
Protein is the foundational building block of your body. It can be found in the organs, tissues, skin, hair and muscles in your body. They are large, complex molecules which are made up of amino acids. A large part of its role is to regulate the function and structure of the body cells, tissues in your body.
What are the essential functions and roles of protein in your body?
There are various forms of proteins in the body. Each of them plays a significant role in our growth, development, progress and day to day performance. They are categorised according to their various functions in your body.
1. Antibodies – These proteins are generated by the immune system to help fight infections and to identify and get rid of foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria, hence, it contributes greatly to protect the body. Antibodies are also known as immunoglobulins.
2. Enzymes – Enzymes are responsible for our body’s metabolic processes. This type of protein takes care of the biochemical responses inside the body. It controls and regulates the various chemical reactions that generally occur in your body cells. Moreover, it supports the development of new cells by checking the genetic information kept in DNA, and ensuring that the right kind of cells are formed and regulated.
3. Structural Proteins – Structural proteins provide structure and support for our cells, such as the collagen and elastin in our connective tissues. On a more significant scale, it makes it possible for the body to move.
4. Storage or Transport Proteins – it transports molecules around the body. These types of proteins bind and transport atoms and tiny molecules within cells and throughout the body. A good example of this is hemoglobin, which transports oxygen throughout the body, through the blood.
5. Messenger, or Hormonal proteins – Hormone proteins send out signals to coordinate the biological functions between various cells, tissues and organs. For instance, insulin manages and controls blood sugar concentration by regulating the uptake of glucose into cells.
Listed above are the various categories and functions of proteins. Eating enough healthy proteins can:
- help revitalize dead tissues and make it possible for the generation of new cells
- help regulate cell division, which works to rejuvenate worn out or unhealthy cells to generate a continuous supply of healthy cells
- generate hormones as well as other serums needed by the body
- provide structure and strength to cells and tissues
- manage biochemical reactions and support the immune system
- help regulate your metabolism or metabolic rate
- Most protein play more than one single role in your body
Proteins should be eaten with quality fats and the requisite amount of carbohydrates (less if you are sedentary and more if you are extremely active). Higher protein intake does not have any ill effects, except in people with pre existing kidney disorders. There are probably more issues related to insufficient consumption of protein.
The most common effects that you can possibly experience, due to low protein consumption, are the following:
- Lack of energy – if you feel lousy or tired all the time, then you should think about the foods you have eaten. You will probably realize that you haven’t had enough protein in of your meals.
- Unhealthy Weight Loss or decreased body mass – most individuals want to lose weight, but if that weight loss comprises of muscle mass rather than the dangerous body fat mass, then it is not worth it. In fact, it is dangerous for your health because you are losing lean muscle mass instead of losing body fat. This is because the body canibalizes your muscle for its protein requirements. This is why a lot of vegans (especially ones who’ve been on it for a long time) look skinny and wasted.
- Poor immunity system – having a diet very low in protein may lead to frequent infections, because your immune system cannot produce enough antibodies or other immune strengthening substances. Protein is needed to help build new tissue, cells and anti-bodies and if you don’t have enough, it will take longer for your body to restore itself.
- Hair loss – Your hair is mostly composed of a protein, which is known as keratin. If you consume very little protein daily, it will cause an imbalance in your system. Your body will be forced to conserve the little protein that is left. Therefore, the delivery of protein to your hair follicles will be limited. As a result, you’ll see a lot of falling hair after a shower or after combing your hair. The same thing also happens with your nails, you will find that it becomes hard to grow healthy nails.
Protein is very important. It must not be taken for granted. Consuming healthy amounts of protein from quality sources can help the process of fat loss and muscle building and for gaining optimal health. It is just one of the factors to look into, when you plan on achieving these goals. Also remember that you will need to include quality natural fats, limited carbs and vitamins in your diet.
To start getting the benefits of healthy protein, you should know the recommended protein intake for your age, gender, body type and physical activity level. If you have not done so, I’ve written an article here about the amount of protein required per day. Make sure to spread it out throughout the day.
So, are you eating enough proteins every day to support your fat loss or muscle gain goals?
If you have any questions or comments, do let us know.