Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Importance of Protein

I want to emphasise the importance of protein this month. To put it simply, protein is one of the main nutrients that every person needs to maintain a healthy body. It helps to repair any internal or external damage, supports the immune system and contributes to an overall feeling of well being. High-protein diets are known for their fat-reducing benefits. One reason they work is that eating more protein reduces hunger. Protein is filling and when people eat more of it they are more quickly satisfied and eat fewer calories.
We need protein for:

  • Growth (especially important for children, teens, and pregnant women)
  • Tissue repair
  • Immune function
  • Making essential hormones and enzymes
  • Energy when carbohydrate is not available
  • Preserving lean muscle mass
Protein is found in meats, poultry, fish, meat substitutes, cheese, milk, nuts, legumes, and in smaller quantities in starchy foods and vegetables.
When we eat these types of foods, our body breaks down the protein that they contain into amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Some amino acids are essential which means that we need to get them from our diet, and others are nonessential which means that our body can make them. Protein that comes from animal sources contains all of the essential amino acids that we need. Plant sources of protein, on the other hand, do not contain all of the essential amino acids.
Protein is essential for exercise. Anyone undertaking any kind of exercise regime is going to need more protein than someone who doesn’t. This is because when you exercise, you are effectively tearing and breaking muscle fibres apart, which then need to be repaired by the body, requiring protein to do so. 

Repair, Maintain, Grow Protein is especially important to consume after a workout as during the exercise you are effectively breaking your muscles down. That is why it’s a common sight to see people at the gym eating protein bars or drinking shakes when they have finished their routine to help increase the impact of their exercise. If you are exercising but find yourself with low energy or feel that you are not building any muscle, it may be down to not consuming enough protein. Make an effort to eat more protein through your diet or by having bars and shakes to feel better and get more out of your workout. 

What's in your Protein Shake?
Protein shakes consist of powdered forms of protein such as soy or whey, which is a by-product of the cheese-making process. Flavouring is added to the powder so that when it’s blended with milk or water, it resembles a milkshake-style drink. Of course there a many brands available and each will add other chemicals and enhancements to the powder.