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Protein comes from the Greek word ‘Protus’ meaning of Prime importance.
Protein is the most abundant organic compound in the body, the basic structural units of protein are amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, unfortunately there are some amino acids that our bodies cannot produce, and these are called essential amino acids, for us to get these amino acids we must get them from dietary sources.
They can be obtained from animal or plant sources. Proteins from food are classified as complete or incomplete, depending on their amino acid content.
A complete protein contains all the essential amino acids, food sources from meat, fish, dairy and some protein powders tend to be complete proteins.
Protein is essential within the body for growth, repair and maintenance of all body tissues. It forms part of all living cells in skin, muscle, tendons, ligaments, hair, bones and teeth.
All enzymes are proteins, enzymes control both the rate and pattern of all chemical reactions that take place within the body, including the digestion and extraction of energy from food.
Some hormones are proteins, these are the chemical messengers that set normal patterns of responses within the body and help regulate a wide range of functions.
Antibodies are proteins, which are produced by white blood cells and released directly into the bloodstream to fight infection.
All of the above suggests that the majority of our diet should be based around protein intake due to its important role within the body yet a lot of people still under consume this very important macronutrient.
Many experts have differing opinions on how much protein should be consumed per day, there are a lot of factors that need to be considered, for example an athlete with a purpose of building muscle will need more than a person who seats at a desk all day and does not exercise.
Here are some guidelines to workout what your protein intake should be
- If you are an athlete or highly active person currently attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean muscle mass, a daily intake of 1.5-2.2g/kg bodyweight would be a good target.
- If you are an athlete or highly active person, or you are attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean mass, then a daily intake of 1.0-1.5g/kg bodyweight would be a good target.
- If you are sedentary and not looking to change body composition much, a daily target of 0.8g/kg bodyweight would be a good target.
- If you are obese, using a protein intake relative to body weight is a bad idea. Either calculate yourlean mass (overall weight after subtracting fat mass, which can be calculated by body fat percentage) or use your goal/target weight for calculations.