Connection Between Protein and Amino Acids
Protein should serve as the bulk of your diet plan to support your healthy lifestyle because it is your body's source for amino acids.
Amino acids are the materials from which proteins are built.
When you eat a food that contains protein, your body disassembles it into amino acids and then can reassemble those amino acids into new proteins.
Amino acids are needed to:
- Build new muscle cells
- Make hormones and enzymes
- Move substances in and out of cells
- Support the immune system
- Produce energy to power the body
Some amino acids are essential, meaning that your body can't manufacture them on their own and must get them from the foods that you eat. The essential amino acid nutrients are:[column-half-1]
Your body also needs a number of other amino acids that are non essential because they can be manufactured from the amino acids found in foods. The non essential amino acid nutrients are:[column-half-1]
- Glutamic acid
- Aspartic acid
Whole Food Protein: The Hunger Fighter
Experts generally agree that whole, solid foods are the best sources of solid protein. A liquid protein only fills up the stomach until it is emptied, so you can quickly feel hungry again after consuming it. When you eat solid food, your body takes much longer to break down the nutrients, leaving your stomach fuller for longer.
Compared to other types of nutrients, protein from whole foods is much better at warding off feelings of hunger. When you eat other types of nutrients like carbs and fat, your body begins to produce the hormone ghrelin at a faster rate than it does after you've consumed protein. Ghrelin is responsible for that stomach growling sensation that makes you reach for food. By keeping its rates lower, protein helps to stave off the urge to eat, making it ideal for individuals who are following calorie restricted diets for weight loss.
How Much Protein Is Right?
While everyone has their own unique traditional needs, most people should consume roughly 1 gram of protein for every pound that they weigh every day. This amount may be adjusted to suit your individual fitness goals. For example, if you're looking to gain more muscle mass, you may require more protein than the standard 1 gram per pound.
The Best Food Protein Sources
When you're choosing foods to serve as protein sources, it's important to keep the other nutrients that they contain in mind. Some protein-rich foods are high in fat, making them less than ideal for a healthy diet. This is particular true of beef and other red meats. Experts usually suggest looking for red meats that are 85 percent lean, 15 percent fat. It's also important to get protein from seafood like wild caught salmon to ensure that your diet includes enough omega 3 fatty acids.
Protein and Your Muscles
As mentioned before, protein is incredibly important for building muscle mass, but anyone who is serious about making strides at the gym should be aware that there is no magic nutrient that will allow you to accumulate muscle mass overnight. A healthy, high protein diet will supply your body with the nutrients needed to generate muscle mass, but you will still need to put in consistent effort at the gym to get results. Muscle development is an ongoing process; change doesn't happen overnight even with the right dietary support.
Many people end up abandoning their fitness eating plans when they don't gain 5 or 10 or 15 pounds of muscle in a few weeks. Don't fall into that trap - remember that each day makes a small difference. Continuing to feed your body the right nutrients will work, but only in time.
Protein Shakes and Supplements
Many fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders and athletes use protein shakes, bars and other supplements to meet their protein needs. While these protein supplement solutions can be beneficial, they should never be your primary source of protein. The word "supplement" is key. Shakes and bars are designed to make up for deficiencies by bridging the gap between the food that you eat and the amount of protein that you need every day. They are not meant to take the place of healthy meals and snacks that are rich in protein.
Key Facts to Remember
So what do you really need to remember about protein? Here are the most important takeaways:
Your body needs protein because it contains amino acids.
The essential amino acids found in protein-rich foods can only be obtained from your diet. Those amino acids are vital because they are used in important processes and used to manufacture the non-essential amino acids that your body also requires.
All of the amino acids do a unique job. You can't replace one with another. Leucine, for example, is one of the key amino acids for muscle building.
Protein from whole foods will help you to fight hunger, so that you can keep to a healthy diet.
Meat, poultry, fish and nuts are all sources of protein. You should eat some of each every week in order to get a balanced blend of omega fatty acids and fully meet your body's protein needs.
Most people need to consume 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. More or less may be needed, depending on your health and fitness goals.
To lose body fat without compromising muscle mass, you need to consume some complex carbs with protein.
Muscle gains happen gradually over time. You can't rush them by consuming protein.
Supplements can be used to bridge the diet gap and ensure that you don't fall short of consuming your daily protein requirements, but they should never be your primary source of protein.
Sportsfuel can help you find the right protein shakes, bars and other supplements to ensure that you are getting the optimal amount of protein required to support muscle development on a daily basis. Browse our selection of protein products now or contact us for assistance selecting a supplement.