The Importance of Protein in Your Diet
Why should you care about making sure you get enough protein? Here are four good reasons:
- It is a component of every cell in your body. In fact, hair and nails are mostly made of protein.
- Your body uses it to build and repair tissue.
- You need it to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
- It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Like carbohydrates and fat, protein is a "macronutrient,” meaning that you need relatively large amounts of it to stay healthy. (Vitamins and minerals, which you only need in small quantities, are called "micronutrients.")
Unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body does not store protein, so it has no reservoir to draw from when you’re running low. Protein bars and shakes are a great way to supplement your diet to ensure you’re getting the right amount of protein.
Benefits of a Protein-Enriched Diet
Consuming high-protein foods has many benefits, including:
- Speeding recovery after exercise
- Reducing muscle loss
- Building lean muscle
- Helping you maintain a healthy weight
- Curbing hunger
Different Forms of Protein
Protein comes from a variety of sources, including meat, milk, fish, soy, and eggs, as well beans, legumes, and nut butters. When proteins are digested, they leave behind amino acids, which the human body needs to break down food.
Whey, a high quality protein source naturally found in milk, is a complete protein and contains all of the amino acids your body needs. In general, proteins derived from animal sources (i.e. milk, eggs & meat) are complete, but your body’s ability to use the protein varies.