Amino acids are the building blocks of the body. Protein is one of the three macronutrients, the other two being carbohydrates and fat. Yielding 4 calories or 16.7 kilojoules per gram of protein, they are the building blocks of the bodies tissue and is used as a source of fuel. The humans’ body is approximately 16% protein in a healthy adult male, which just goes to show the vital importance of protein.
Proteins are made up of amino acids. The element compound of amino acids is carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, although other elements are found in the side chains of certain amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of the body. They are the most fundamental part of the human body, at the cellular level. Used in every cell in the body, amino acids help build the proteins the body needs to survive. Roughly twenty percent of the human body is made up of protein, therefore, amino acids make up a large proportion of our cells, muscles, and tissue.
There are 20 amino acids that are categorised either essential or non-essential. There are 9 essential amino acids which are found in food and supplements. Then there are 11 non-essential amino acids which are made by the body but don’t let the name fool you, they are just as important as essential amino acids.
Importance of protein
Protein is found throughout your body, providing structure, function, and organisation to all aspects of our makeup. It is a common misconception that protein only helps muscles grow and repair. In the fitness world, protein is used for this specific factor. But that is just a small portion of the role protein plays in the human body.
Protein is in our skin (collagen), nails and hair (keratin), blood, lymph, and plasma. It enables our muscles to contract, fights infections and repairs tissue damage. Protein is in bone, brain cells, it makes the enzymes that digest food, repairs damaged DNA and regulates all chemical reactions in the body. It removes toxins from the liver, and makes up all neurotransmitters, except one. Protein makes up 95 percent of all hormones in the body as well as carrying hormones, vitamins, fatty acids and minerals to the cells.
The list goes on, the point is, protein is everywhere and has countless functions. Without it, we would cease to exist. When we eat protein, we are keeping the entire human body system intact.
Protein in the body is constantly being used up and exchanged for new protein in a process called “protein turnover”. About one pound or half a kilogram of protein a day is used up in this process, and so it needs to be replenished from the diet daily. Here are some examples of turnover times for different body proteins:
enzymes: 7–10 min.
insulin: 30 min.
liver protein: 10 days.
muscle protein: 60 days
In 1 year, all the protein in our body has turned over. So, you can image the rate that you need to be replacing protein. It’s like putting fuel into your car. You need to top up the tank for your car to run!
Does the Type of Protein Matter?
Different types of proteins have a different amino acid profile and digestion rates. The higher the amino acid profile and the quicker the digestion, the better the source of protein.
All animal products such as beef, eggs, milk, and cheese have all 9 essential amino acids. Soy products are the only vegan plant-based foods to have all 9 essential amino acids. Although eating a wide variety of plant-based product will give you all 9 amino acids
Casein protein, for example, has a slower digestion rate than whey protein isolate and concentrate. This isn’t necessarily bad if you know how and why to use this supplement. Casein is more beneficial at preventing muscle break down because of its slow absorption rate.
Do You Need to Take Protein Supplements?
Most athletes can get all the protein they require from their diet alone. But this can be hard at times! Protein supplements give you a quick, affordable and quick digestible protein source full of all the essential amino acid your body requires.
Vegetarians and vegans can find it hard at times to consume enough complete protein. This is because the only source of complete protein that has all 9 essential amino acid is soy. Yes, vegetables, legumes, and grains consist of proteins, but they do not offer the same value that supplements can offer.
So, no you do not need to take a protein supplement if your diet is extremely strict, but it can be highly beneficial.
Common Protein Supplements
Whey protein is made from cows’ milk. Cow’s milk is made up of two proteins, casein (80%) and whey (20%). Whey can be split from the casein. Whey protein is essentially the fast digesting protein in dairy. This protein is a complete source of protein because it has all 9 essential amino acids.
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate is the most common protein powder. It is made when milk is filtered, so only whey protein is left from the milk. Then it is micro filtered rather than heated to keep its amino acid profile high. The product contains roughly 80% protein with only a small amount of fats and carbohydrates. Concentrate protein is the more economical protein of the two.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate has a higher protein percentage than concentrate. It has been filtered even further than the concentrate and therefore has more fats and carbohydrates taken out. This makes it perfect for post workout when you need to quickly intake some fast digesting proteins to assist recovery. Low in lactose, it can also be beneficial for people who struggle with dairy products.
Recov Bipeptides is a powerful dietary protein supplement. They provide a unique combination of all 20 amino acids in a pre-digested, peptide form. Recov Bipeptides is a 100% plasma (serum albumin) product. By nature, they only consist of peptides. These are the foundation of protein, and protein is essential for a healthy and happy body.
So, to conclude, protein plays a much bigger role than most people are aware of. Without adequate levels of protein, the body cannot function. This can leave the body feeling tired, sick and not able to live life to the fullest.