Why Protein Is Important?
An Essential Part of Life
From energy production, weight management, muscle building, metabolism, brain, and body composition to keeping a healthy body and lifestyle, consumption of protein in the right amounts play a vital role in your health. No matter what your health or fitness goals are, importance of protein consumption is a subject that can be easily missed. Learning how much protein your body needs daily is necessary for your body to function the right way.
The body uses protein to build and repair tissues. Not only that, protein is also used to produce hormones, enzymes, and other important body chemicals. It is an important building block of muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, organs, neurotransmitters, blood, and various tiny molecules that serve important functions in the body.
Proteins are made out of smaller molecules that are linked together called amino acids. Long protein chains are formed with these linked amino acids and are then folded into complex shapes. Without protein, as we know it, life would not be possible. Where some amino acids are produced in the body, some essential ones are consumed through diet and other sources hence the importance of quality protein and not just the quantity of it is important.
Protein is considered a macronutrient along with carbohydrates and fats which means the body needs fairly large amounts of it for proper function compared to micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Because the body does not store protein and has no reservoir to draw it from as it does with fats and carbohydrates, therefore the body needs a constant supply daily with the modest amount to function well.
According to the Dietary Reference Intake or DRI 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound amounts to 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary women. With this amount maybe enough to avoid protein deficiency, studies show that it might not be sufficient to ensure body composition and optimal health as other factors may come into play.
These factors include age, muscle mass, physique goals, activity level and current state of health. These lifestyle factors along with weight loss, muscle building, and activity levels play a role in knowing how much protein a person must take to avoid deficiency and obtain optimal health.
Animal protein generally offers all essential amino acids. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy are the most common types of protein sources however if you don’t eat enough of these to reach your daily intake value, protein supplements may also fill in the gap especially for those with a bit more active lifestyle.
Protein plays a vital role in muscle building and losing weight. Science supports the fact that eating protein increases the number of calories you burn by boosting your metabolic rate or calories out and reducing your appetite or calories in.
In comparison to low protein diets, protein at around 25 – 30% of the total daily calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 – 100 calories per day. Because protein has the ability to cause a natural reduction in calorie intake and reduction in appetite it makes you feel full much better than both carbs and fat. This is probably one of the most important contribution of protein to weight loss.
Protein helps prevents gaining weight and not just losing weight. One of the studies showed a modest increase in protein of 15% to 18% of calories reduced the amount of fat people regained after weight loss by 50%.
Building and preserving muscle mass, which burns a small number of calories around the clock requires a high intake of protein. A protein intake at around 30% of calories seems to be optimal in regards to weight loss. It helps boost metabolic rate and causes a natural reduction in calorie intake.
Because Muscles are largely made of protein, and as with the tissues in the body it is constantly broken down and rebuilt, to gain and repair muscle the body has to synthesize more muscle protein than it breaks down.
With the right amount of exercise, people who want to gain muscle and gain more strength need to consume greater amounts of protein. Studies look at the daily grams of protein per kilograms or pounds of body weight when it comes to building muscle mass with a common recommendation of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram. Some scientist believes an estimated amount of protein needs to be a 0.7 grams per pound, or 1.6 grams per kilogram at minimum. Again, numerous studies come to different conclusions to gain optimal health but always take into consideration the lifestyle factors to determine the amount of protein each person needs.
If you have a lot of body fat, instead of using your total body weight, using your lean mass or your goal weight is a better idea as it is mostly your lean mass that determines how much protein your body would need.
Putting muscle mass and physique goals aside in general, people who are physically active do require more protein intake than those who are sedentary or with less activity. Depending on your job or lifestyle, whether your job is physically demanding, you run, swim, walk a lot or engage in any form of exercise your body will still require more protein intake.
Older adults may require a higher amount in protein intake of up to 50% higher than the DRI, or about 0.45 – 0.6 grams per pound or 1 – 1.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. This helps prevent the breakdown of bones, osteoporosis, sarcopenia (reduction in muscle mass) which are all significant problems in the elderly. The same is also recommended for people recovering from injuries. Athletes and people who continually engage in sports need significant amounts of protein intake, about 0.5 – 0.65 grams per pound, or 1.2 – 1.4 grams per kilogram.
With protein unfairly blamed for a number of health problems through unsupported claims as some believe that a high protein diet can cause kidney damage, it’s restriction may be exercised for those with pre-existing conditions related to kidney problems, for healthy people, protein has never shown to cause any kidney damage, instead a higher protein intake was found to lower blood pressure and help fights diabetes which are considered the two main risk factors for kidney disease.
Protein has also been blamed for osteoporosis, whereas studies have shown it can prevent such a condition. Overall, in moderation, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effect in healthy people who are trying to stay healthy.
Nutrition science refers, “grams of protein” to grams of the macronutrient protein, not the grams of a protein-containing food such as eggs, fish, meat etc.
As such an 8-ounce of beef serving weighs 226 grams but actually contains 61 grams of protein. A large egg weighs 46 grams but actually packs 6 grams of protein.
Now, if you are an average healthy person who don’t lift weights or exercise as much, doesn’t engage in any form of physical activity, aiming for 0.36 – 0.6 grams per pound or 0.8 – 1.3 gram per kilogram is an adequate estimate which amounts to 56-91 grams per day for the average male and 46 – 75 grams per day for an average female.
In conclusion, as there is no evident harm and thoroughly significant evidence of benefit, being on the side of more protein intake is likely better than having less. Protein is an essential part of life and is a necessity to live healthy and fully.
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