Protein 101, Part 1
The Better Life Experts | December 30, 2008

These next 3 articles will be part of Protein 101, a series detailing the why’s and wherefores of protein in the body and in a healthy diet. The need for this series of articles surfaced in a class we are teaching at BLI. This class is composed of 16 office-working females in varying states of fitness, ranging from 20-60 years of age, and one lone 60 year old male who is in good health and shape except for the “male pot belly”. All participants are enthusiastic and eager to succeed. They are also very competitive! And most of them (especially the women) are “simple carbohydrates-sugar” loaders as we have found out from their dietary recall charts. But they are learning about lifestyle change, loving the program and trying to make the necessary changes. Yesterday, the subject of “the need vs. use of protein in the daily diet” arose. So for the class currently being conducted at BLI and for all of you on our mailing list, here goes:

  1. Proteins provide nutrients that are essential for the building and repair of the body’s tissues.

  2. They help to produce the enzymes, hormones, and other substances the body uses for good, healthy functioning, in the transport of nutrients, and in keeping our muscles in good working order.

  3. Proteins can help to keep the body healthy by resisting diseases that are most common in people who suffer from malnutrition.

  4. Proteins can help prevent bodily fatigue while, simultaneously, increasing stamina and energy.

  5. Proteins are found in muscle tissue, bone, hemoglobin, hormones, enzymes, and anti-bodies.

  6. Proteins make up about 45% of the adult human body.

  7. Muscles in the body are primarily made up of about 70% water, and 20% protein.
The majority of foods contain protein; some more than others.
  1. Proteins are made up of amino acids, also commonly referred to as “building blocks”. Of the 20 amino acids used for protein synthesis in the body, 12 “nonessential” amino acids can be manufactured within the body. The 8 essential amino acids that cannot be created by the body must be obtained from our diet.

  2. Proteins fall into 2 categories: Complete and Incomplete Proteins.

    • Complete Proteins (proteins that have all the amino acids) are proteins that most often come from animal sources, (i.e. meat, poultry, dairy, fish, eggs, etc.)

    • Incomplete Proteins (sources of proteins that do not contain all the amino acids in one specific food) come from certain vegetables, such as peas and beans, seeds, and whole grains.

    • When 2 or more incomplete proteins are combined, they can produce a “complete protein” for the best bodily efficiency.

  3. A “meat-eating” adult usually requires 2-3 servings of animal protein daily to meet basic health requirements.

  4. A “vegetable-eating” adult usually requires 2-3 servings of beans, peas, eggs, nuts, or dairy products every day for good health.

  5. Athletes (not couch potatoes) may require additional protein in their daily diet, depending upon the amount of exercise they get on a regular basis.

  6. Although some athletes consume 3 or more grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day, it is recommended that they not exceed 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Research shows that taking more than 1.35 grams per day does not increase muscle mass or strength. Instead, engaging in resistance exercise (e.g., weight lifting) increases muscle mass by improving protein synthesis.

  7. A non-athletic adult requires about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
How much protein should the average adult consume every day? In the next bulletin, we will show you how to calculate the amount of protein your body requires. But for now, lets’ say this: “Protein intake should account for about 10% to 15% of the total calories you take in on a daily basis. Think about it!
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