What are proteins?
No one can deny that protein builds muscle and play a vital role in critical functions. We get the name Protein from the Greek word Proteos that means primary. Society derived the name from its constituents, amino acids, the building blocks of the human body. Some purposes of proteins include transporting nutrients, growth, repair, maintaining cell shape, generating energy, and maintaining the body’s pH balance.
What are proteins made of?
Twenty amino acids in the human body join in unique combinations to form proteins. The number, and the order of the amino acids, are distinctive. They do an incredible job in the human body, from the growth and maintenance to the transportation of nutrients. There are two types of proteins: enzymes and hormones.
Enzymes are complex proteins that catalyze the chemical reactions in the human body. We group the enzymes into three types: catabolic, anabolic, and catalytic enzymes. Enzymes break down the substrates as catabolic enzymes, while the anabolic enzymes create more complex structures. But enzymes are also catalysts because they influence the rate of a biochemical reaction. One example of enzymes, Lipase, helps in the digestion of fats.
Hormones are the chemical messengers or signals that travel through the blood to the organs and stimulate necessary functions: growth, metabolism, and reproduction. One example of this: adrenaline glands secrete adrenaline to prepare your body for vigorous actions.
Proteins have unknown weights and shapes. Each protein has a unique shape. Some are Globular, while some are fibrous. Different chemical bonds compose proteins, and that forms their shapes. Their functions also depend upon their shape. However, some changes in the environment, pH, and chemicals can change their shapes. Changes in the form of proteins can affect their nature, preventing them from performing their jobs.
Do you need protein?
It would be best if you ate proteins to build muscle and for a healthy lifestyle. The right mix of macros (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) creates a healthy diet. The number of proteins you need depends on your age, gender, and lifestyle. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that an average adult male eats approximately 52 grams of protein and 46 grams.
Proteins and digestion process
Proteins work in many places throughout the digestion process. The role of proteins starts when you chew your food because your saliva contains Amylase and Lipase. Here they help to breakdown your food into fats and carbohydrates.
When the food reaches the stomach, it is further broken down into smaller amino acids by the enzyme, Proteases. After this process, the food moves to the small intestine, where the pancreas releases an enzyme that decreases the acidity and further breaks it down into more simple amino acids.
How do proteins help your immune system?
Research and studies have revealed that proteins help to boost immunity from inflammatory and immunity diseases. It gives the Treg cell the authority to regulate the immune response to viruses and inflammation according to their intensity.
How your body uses proteins?
There are several other ways your body uses proteins. They perform several functions, and I have provided some of them below. Let’s dig to understand the role of proteins in your body.
Growth and maintenance
Your body needs protein to build muscle and for the growth of tissues. The more you work, the more proteins you need. Your body’s requirement of proteins largely depends upon the health and activities your body carries out. People recuperating from sickness and injuries need more protein. Older people, athletes, pregnant women, and nursing mothers require more proteins than everybody else does.
Work as a catalyst
Protein builds muscle and increases the rate of biochemical reactions in your body. They combine with substrates inside cells that break down or create the structures of your metabolism.
The enzymes play a significant role in digesting food. Some enzymes also need vitamins and minerals to perform specific actions. They are responsible for several body functions, including digestion, energy production, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. If these enzymes do not work, your body quickly breaks down.
Act as a messenger
Hormones are proteins that work as messengers that takes messages to different organs through your blood. Endocrine glands and tissues secrete these hormones that reach the protein receptors on the cell surface. Lipid-derived, peptide, and amino acid-derived make up the three types of hormones. Amino acids and peptides come from proteins. At the same time, estrogen and testosterone come from fats. The example of some hormones is insulin, glucagon, ADH, HGH, and ACTH.
Insulin is a well-known hormone responsible for maintaining sugar levels in your body. Glucagon breaks down the liver’s glucose while the human growth hormone promotes bones’ growth in your body. Your body has several hormones that perform essential body functions by transmitting information between cells and tissues.
Proteins form antibodies
Protein builds muscle and forms antibodies against certain viruses, bacteria, and diseases. They work in combination with other immune cells to destroy antigens. For example, white blood cells responsible for the body’s overall immunity destroy antigens after protein confines them. In this way, proteins assist your immune system.
Help in the transportation and storage of nutrients
Proteins not only build muscle but also transport nutrients within your body. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, blood sugar, oxygen, and cholesterol. Each protein transporter has a specific function. They are present in the membrane, where they form a channel to pass the cell’s substrate from one side to the other.
Several transport proteins work in your body, for example, the Sodium-Glucose transport protein. This protein moves glucose into your cells.
Proteins also perform storage functions. They act as a reserve for metal ions and amino acids. For example, Ferritin is a storage protein that stocks iron.
Proteins provide energy to your body. They are a superb source of energy if you are fasting or you are doing a heavy workout. They do not offer power like carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates and fats can quickly metabolize food into energy, while proteins act slowly and use a lot of energy. When your body can’t get power from carbohydrates and fats, then it uses proteins for energy.
Protein and weight control
Protein builds muscle and subsequently can influence your weight. You can quickly lose weight by consuming a protein-rich diet that promotes a feeling of fullness over foods rich in fats and carbohydrates. As a result, you end up eating less than you usually do, which helps you lose weight. However, to lose weight effectively, it is crucial to maintain a protein-rich diet as a lifestyle; otherwise, the benefits quickly disappear.
There is a myth that overeating protein won’t cause weight gain. This is false because too much of any food leads to weight gain. A protein-rich diet creates a feeling of fullness better than carbohydrates and fats. Still, if you continue to overeat them, you will gain weight.
Protein and Sarcopenia
Sarcopenia is a medical condition where the human body loses muscle mass and normal physical functions. This disorder usually arises in older people. Older people feel weaker, fall more often, and their body parts stop functioning as they get older. Proteins develop the muscle mass that decreases the chances of sarcopenia and other physical disorders.
Proteins benefit athletes
As we already know, protein builds muscles and helps to strengthen tissues that improve athletic performance. The athlete should consume a diet rich in proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and minerals. The right combination of macros enhances performance in sports and at the gym. Your activity level and intensity of your workout or competition determine the amount of protein you must eat.
Protein stiffens cells and tissues.
Proteins, like Collagen, Elastic, and Keratin, form specific cells and tissues. Keratin strengthens your skin, hair, and nails, while Collagen fortifies your bones and ligaments. Elastin’s presence in your body helps several body parts reach their original shape after injury or change, for example, the uterus and vessels.
Frequently asked questions
Is too much protein harmful to my body?
Yes, too much protein can lead to several disorders, especially those with a particular medical history. People who have kidney issues cannot tolerate excessive use of proteins. They should consult their doctor before increasing proteins in their diet.
Are there any risks associated with eating protein?
Yes, there are a few risks that come with overeating protein-rich food like red meat. Red meat is a significant protein-rich source, but overeating protein-rich red meats increase your risk of cancer. Processed meat is more prone to such risk; therefore, you should not consume over three portions of processed meat in a week.
Will you lose weight if you eat protein-rich food?
Eating protein-rich food does not ensure weight loss. But It can lead to weight loss because it creates the feeling of fulfillment after eating a small meal compared to foods rich in fats and carbohydrates. If you continue to consume large amounts of protein-rich food, you will gain weight.
What are protein-rich foods?
The high protein-rich foods include fish, red meat, yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, nut, and lentils. Fruits including apricots, guavas, avocados; all citrus fruits like oranges and lemons; and berries like raspberries and blackberries also have protein in them. Veggies like broccoli, spinach, beans, mushrooms, or sprouts are common sources of protein.
How much protein does an average person need?
You must consume daily at least 0.8 gm per kg of your body weight. However, the more you work, the more you need proteins. Athletes, older adults, and pregnant and nursing women need more protein than the average person because of their higher activity levels and protein deficiency, respectively.
Do proteins help to maintain PH balance?
Yes, protein builds muscle and maintains the pH level of your body. Proteins maintain pH levels through hemoglobin. Specific proteins regulate the pH level of your blood. They sense the alkaline nature of your blood and stimulate other proteins to adjust your blood’s pH level through cellular functions.
Do proteins maintain water balance in your body?
Yes, there are specific proteins that maintain water balance in your body. These proteins are knowns as Albumin and Globulin. They help to preserve the fluid in your body.
Protein builds muscle and is the essential building block of your body. They perform several vital functions critical to the human body’s mortality, including growth and maintenance, providing energy, transporting and storing nutrients, and helping metabolism.
Eating the correct amount of proteins lead to several advantages. Still, it varies based on your age and how active you are. It would be best to increase the number of proteins you eat at your optimum levels. That way, your body has the tools it needs to build and protect itself.