Protein – What is it, and why is it important to us?

At the age of 21 most people in the West have heard about the importance of keeping a balanced diet and eating good foods, and those who have become interested in sports activities by that age may also have heard about protein being of some importance to the human body’s nourishment needs.

Well, in case you cannot remember why a balanced diet is important, or, in case you didn’t understand why a balanced diet is important, #DavidWest28 shall help you with some good information, on this occasion, all about protein.


What is protein, and why is protein important to us as human beings?

Protein is a component of each cell that forms the human body, it is used by the human body to build and repair skin tissue, make enzymes, make hormones, and for producing other bodily chemicals. Protein is a building-feature of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Protein is known as a macro-nutrient, because the human body requires large amounts of protein to remain healthy. Each gram of protein is said to contain four calories, and protein makes up around 15% of a human’s body weight.

The human muscles, organs and immune system consist mostly of protein.

Sources of protein include: meat, milk, fish, soy, eggs, beans, legumes, and nut butters.

Proteins are large and complicated molecules that consist of hundreds or thousands of smaller units, called amino acids which are attached to one another. Scientists have identified a total of 20 different amino acids that can be combined to form a protein.

The 20 amino acids can be understood as being separate letters of the alphabet, with proteins being words; the letters are used to form different words, where different words consist of different letters, and where words do not require every letter of the alphabet to be formed.

All proteins are not the same, for example, the amino acids that create the proteins in the white of an egg differ to the amino acids in the proteins of milk. So, in consideration of the protein within food and drinks, even where physical similarities between the foods may exist, note that proteins have their differences and that the differences reflect differences in their amino acid compositions.

After consuming food and drinks, the digestive juices within the human stomach and intestine become active; they break down the protein within the food(s) into their basic units (amino acids) and are then absorbed by the human bloodstream, and the body then relies on these amino acids for forming new and special proteins known as “body proteins”, relied on by the body in numerous specific ways.

The human body is able to use the individual amino acids broken down from consumed foods as building blocks for manufacturing over 28,000 different body-proteins, with each body-protein being special in its structure and function due to its unique arrangement of amino acids.

Some body-proteins are used for building cardiac muscle (the heart organ).

Some body-proteins (anti-bodies) are used for protecting the human body from viruses and bacteria.

Some body-proteins (enzymes) are used for performing the vastly numerous chemical reactions which occur within cells.

Some body-proteins (messengers) are used to transmit signals for co-ordinating bio-logical processes between different cells, tissues and organs.

Some body-proteins provide structure and support for cells [e.g. Actin].

Some body-proteins bind and carry items within cells, and throughout the body [e.g. Ferritin]

For as long as the human body has access to the relevant raw materials (amino acids) it can develop the building blocks to form body-proteins (enzymes, hormones, immune-system support, nutrient transporting) continuously.

Once consumed-proteins are broken down into amino acids, it becomes impossible to ascertain where they came from; they become an acidic solution within the human body that the body extracts from as required.

To ensure a good supply of amino acids for the human body it is essential that adequate amounts of protein are consumed each day.

It is important to eat, not only the right amount of proteins each day, but also the right types. A shortage of protein in our diets causes the human body to break down proteins within its muscles, for amino acids needed for our vital body-proteins.

The inner process of building up proteins and breaking them down again occurs constantly within the human body, but the process works so long as there are sufficient amounts of the adequate amino acids entering the human body for keeping the process balanced.


Complete and Incomplete Proteins

Of the 20 amino acids that the human body needs for manufacturing body-proteins, 11 are capable of being produced by the human body itself, making the remaining nine “essential” amino acids; the human body must gain these via food(s) consumed by an individual.

Proteins extracted from animal sources (meat, milk, and fish) feature all nine of the essential amino acids, and are therefore referred to as being “complete” proteins.

Proteins extracted from vegetable sources are short of one or two of the essential amino acids, for this reason they are referred to as being “incomplete” proteins. This can be a problem for vegetarians but it can be overcome easily, by eating a variety of protein-rich foods. For example, the essential amino acids cannot be gained from peanuts alone, but if peanut-butter and whole-grain bread are combined, the complete set of essential amino acids are gained, similarly with red beans when combined with rice.

The essential amino acids may not be gained within a single meal, but if the variety of protein sources are relied on within a day, the human body can gain the essential nutrients that it needs within 24 hours.


Calculating Daily Protein Needs

The amount of protein recommended for humans each day differs with the activities that individuals are involved in. For regular individuals,

0.8 – 1.0 gram of protein per kilogram of body-weight is recommended. For individuals who are active body-builders and strength athletes, 1.4 – 2.0 grams per kilogram of body-weight is recommended, and, for endurance athletes, 1.2 – 1.6 grams per kilogram of body-weight is recommended.

Food tables made available by some food suppliers present information on the protein-content of the food (or drink), but keeping a balanced diet can relieve you of the need to check. Generally, it is not difficult to gain the daily-required-amounts of protein each day.

By combining a healthy diet with regular effective exercise, an individual’s lifestyle becomes healthy, and this may become easier to manage if the methods for exercising are within the home.  An exercise bike can add convenience. So consider the number of calories that you consume when consuming the food of your choosing, and consider how many calories you need to burn in order to maintain a healthy energy-in and energy-out balance for your body.


Limiting Protein Intake

For avoiding the risks of osteoporosis or the worsening of an existing kidney problem, the UK’s Department of Health recommends not exceeding twice the recommended amount of protein intake.



Studies have indicated that eating more protein as we age helps to minimise the loss of muscle associated with aging.

The benefits of a protein-rich diet include: fast recovery following exercise, a reduction of muscle loss, healthy body-weight maintenance, and hunger denials by one’s body.

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