Protein is the building block of life and is made up of amino acids which are joined together by chemical bonds to form a three-dimensional structure. Protein is a macro-nutrient which we consume from our diet.
Types of amino acids:
1. Essential Amino Acids: These can not be synthesized in our body, so these must be consumed through diet. These are:
2. Non-Essential Amino Acids: These can be synthesized by our body. These are:
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
3. Conditionally Essential Amino Acids: These can be synthesized by the body, but sometimes when the body is under stress then it is unable to synthesized these amino acids. These are:
Function of Protein:
1. Body repair and maintenance:
Protein is the building block of life as it helps in building cells and tissues in the body. Muscles, organs, hair, skin, eyes, nails etc are all synthesized with the help of protein. Protein replaces old worn out cells and replaces them with new cells and also repairs damaged muscle tissues.
2. Hormone synthesis:
Our body synthesizes hormones using protein. Hormones like insulin (regulates blood sugar levels), secretin (stimulates intestine and pancreas to produce digestive juices and thus aids in digestion) are made with protein
3. Enzyme synthesis:
Enzymes are proteins which increase the rate of chemical reactions in the body. Enzymes performs various functions in the body for example, DNA synthesis, digestion of starch and complex molecules etc.
4. Maintains healthy body weight:
Protein increases the glucagon hormone levels in the body which can help in controlling body fat. It is released in the blood when the glucose level in the blood drops. Glucagon makes liver to break down stored fat (glycogen) into glucose.
It also breaks down free fatty acids which are stored in adipose tissue to be used as energy for the body.
5. Maintains healthy Immune System:
Proteins helps in maintaining a healthy immune system. They work with immune system and forms antibodies which destroys antigens like bacteria and viruses and thus protects us from diseases and infections.
Hemoglobin is a protein which transports oxygen throughout our body and is responsible for the red color of the blood.
How much protein do you need per day?
Protein intake varies from person to person depending on the activity level and goals. So let’s categorize the daily protein intake:
1. People who are less active:
People in this category are those who do not do any workout. Their lifestyle is normal like going to office-coming back, eat, sleep. People who just started working out should also stick to this intake. For these people protein intake should be:
- 0.5g/lb, i.e. if you weigh 160lb then your consumption should be 80 gm.
This much protein intake is must to prevent protein deficiency.
2. People who workout 2-3 times/week:
- 0.8g/lb i.e. if you weigh 160lb then your consumption should be 128 gm.
3. People who workout 5-6 times/week:
- 1g/lb i.e. if you weigh 160lb then your consumption should be 160gm.
4. People with mature muscles:
This category includes people who have been working out for years and have mature muscles. Their muscles are mature and can absorb more protein than normal people.
- 1.2-1.5g/lb, i.e. if you weigh 180lb that your can consume 200g-250g protein
We all need protein to survive. Protein promotes proper immune function, metabolism, muscle density, weight, hormone synthesis etc. So minimal amount of protein is must to prevent protein deficiency in the body.