Your body uses protein as its major source of material for building and repairing blood, muscles, bones, skin, teeth, hair, nails and your internal organs. ‘Protein’ comes from the Greek word ‘proteios’ meaning of primary importance. Protein molecules also make up certain hormones and serve as important regulators in your body. They help maintain your blood pressure, blood sugar levels and your metabolism.
WHY DO WE NEED PROTEIN?
WHAT IS PROTEIN?
Protein is the most complex group of substances known to science. It’s made up of smaller molecules called amino acids. Your body needs a total of 22 different amino acids to form all of its necessary protein.
Your cells can make many of them but 8 of them solely come from the food you eat. These 8 are called the essential amino acids. They’re tryptophan, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, leucine and isoleucine.
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN PROTEIN?
Most protein foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish, eggs, poultry, cheese and milk, contain all of the essential amino acids and are therefore called complete proteins. Proteins found in vegetables usually lack one or more of the essential amino acids, making them incomplete proteins. However, you can combine two incomplete proteins to make a very high-quality complete protein.
DIFFERENT SOURCES OF PROTEIN:
Fish is a very high-quality protein. In contrast to the fat found in animal flesh, the oil found in fish has some beneficial effects for humans. Fish oil helps keep blood cholesterol levels low resulting in fewer heart attacks.
Eggs contain a high-quality complete protein. For years, the protein in eggs has been used as the standard against which to measure the quality of other protein sources. A great deal of concern has been expressed about the cholesterol contained in eggs. But eggs also contain lecithin, which helps to prevent fats from accumulating on the walls of the arteries.
Milk is a complete protein and can be a part of a balanced diet. Milk combines easily with other foods. Any vegetable protein can be made complete when combined with milk.
There are many kinds of cheese, most of which are high in protein and many of which are fairly high in fat. People who have problems digesting milk usually don’t have a problem with cheese.
Beef is a very high-quality protein although certain cuts of beef may be high in fat. It’s a complete protein and especially good for muscle building.
Chicken is another good quality protein and without the skin is relatively low in fat. Compared to beef, the human body digests chicken more quickly and easily.
Legumes and Grains
One of the most popular combinations of vegetable proteins is using legumes with grains. Legumes are plants whose seeds grow in pods such as peas, beans and peanuts. When the pods of beans or peas are young and immature, they’re especially high in vitamin A and iron. As they mature their protein value increases substantially.
Grains include rice, corn, rye, wheat and others. The very amino acids that are missing in beans are found in abundance in grains.
Whey Protein Powder
This is a complete protein and no other protein can be digested faster than whey protein. It’s made from a byproduct of cheese and is very low in fat. Whey protein powder is the ideal form of protein to take immediately after exercise.
Now you know where you can find your dose of protein in foods, you can plan your meals better. Make your diet work to achieve your fitness goals.