LEVEL 01: PROTEIN
The importance of protein has long been recognized by many research and studies. Proteins are one of the essential nutrients and considered as building blocks of our body tissue. It consists the chain of amino acids which are the prerequisite as they help to reduce the effect of catabolism in our body.
But it is followed by many misconceptions and these myths keeps people away from focusing on protein-rich diet. Some of the most common myths about protein are:
1. Protein will make you bulky:
This is the most common misconception among the ladies. They believe that too much protein will make them muscular and they will lose their so loved feminine figure. But ladies, testosterones are responsible for growing bulky and your body contains just a fraction of them compared to men. Proteins will repair your tissue and make you stronger.
2. A high-protein diet is dangerous:
It is believed that too much protein is harmful to your kidneys and can leach the calcium from your bones. But according to the research made by US National Library of Medicine(1), there is a positive influence of protein on lumbar spine and has no association with a reduction in bone mineral density (BMD). Apart from this, high-protein has no impact on kidney unless you are a kidney disease patient.
3. More protein = More muscles:
Reconsider your thought if you think that more protein will help you grow muscles faster. There is no shortcut for building muscles and getting fit. Protein helps you repair and recover the torn muscle tissue and prepare you for the next sweat session.
4. It affects your digestive system:
Protein just takes a little more time to get digest and utilized but it doesn’t affect your digestive system. Just make sure to drink plenty of water when you are gulping down more protein.
Before you let those protein myths messes with your diet, let us understand what protein is and how it works in your body.
The essential: Protein
Protein is considered as a dietary nutrient that consists of 9 essential amino acids. Out of this, our body is only capable of synthesizing some of the amino acids and remaining is restricted under certain pathophysiological conditions. These amino acids are necessary for our body’s growth and maintenance. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, skin, blood, and cartilage.
Protein, fats, and carbohydrates are the three macronutrients of the body so the body needs a large amount of it. Our body can store fats and carbohydrates but there is no reservoir to store protein so we need to infuse protein in our body for proper functioning.
How does Protein work in our body?
Nitrogen plays an important role in metabolizing protein. Protein intake-Protein loss= Positive Nitrogen Balance. That means there should be enough protein in our body to maintain positive nitrogen balance. It is an anabolic state while negative nitrogen balance refers to a catabolic state which is harmful to our body.
Our body constantly breaks, assemble and use the protein. So it is necessary to make protein available in our body to maintain this process of building up and repairing the damaged tissues.
Benefits of Protein
1. A decrease in hunger pangs: Protein is digested slowly which will make you feel fuller for longer. This helps to curb your cravings and will keep your hunger at bay-making it easy for you to control your calorie intake.
2. Improves muscle mass: Any physical activity damages your muscle tissue. Now the need for protein arises to repair the damage and grow them back stronger. Amino acids found in protein synthesize the protein in muscle tissue and helps to improve the muscle mass reduces the risk of muscle loss.
3. Improves immune system: Immune system depends upon the balance between catabolism and anabolism. Protein works as building blocks of muscle tissue and hence reduces the effects of catabolism. It develops antibodies that help to fight disease and acute your immune system.
4. Helps you to lose weight: Protein is digested slowly which will satiate your hunger and helps you to avoid overeating. Controlled calorie intake due to the high-protein diet will make your weight-loss strategy effective.
According to a recent study made by US National Library of Medicine (2), high protein increases thermogenesis and satiety. Thermogenesis is a process in which your body generates heat to burn calories which result in weight loss.
5. Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels: Insulin is a fat-storage hormone which is responsible for carrying glucose released from carbohydrates and store it in fat cells. Insulin resistance increases the blood sugar level. Protein rich diet reverses the process as they are high in fats and fats do not cause the spike in blood sugars which decrease the risk of diabetes. (3)
Requirement of protein
Many research and debates have taken place on the requirement of protein. The overall requirement of the protein depends upon the physical activity level of a person, body’s need for nitrogen and essential amino acids and the energy intake. If body deprives of protein intake as required by the body, it will start breaking the muscle tissue and leads to muscle loss.
According to US and Canadian Dietary Reference Intake guidelines, the recommended dietary allowance for a normal person is 0.8 grams of protein per body weight. This calculation may vary depending on the activeness of a person.
Protein Requirements for athletes: Due to increase in muscles mass and sweat loss, more protein is required for active people and athletes. 1.2-2.1 grams of protein per body weight is recommended for athletes and weightlifters- according to Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004, 22, 65-79.(4)
Sources of Protein
The requirement of protein can be satiated either from whole foods or from supplements.
Whole Foods: Chicken, Grass-fed Beef, Lentils, Cottage Cheese, Fish, Yogurt, Broccoli, are some of the good sources of protein.
Supplements: Whey Protein, Egg Protein, Soy Protein, Casein, Fish-oil are some of the protein-rich supplements to curb your protein needs.
“The Food you eat can be either the safest and the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
So make sure you eat the right quality and the right proportion of protein.