What is protein

What is protein?

Protein is needed for normal repair and replacement of cells tissues, as well for the formation of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Protein is a nitrogen rich compound, which is needed for all structures in the body, including muscle tissue. It is made up of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are the building blocks of life.

Why do I need protein?

When we exercise we actually break down fibres of the muscles we use and our body then repairs these structures using protein from the food we eat. Every-time muscle fibres are broken down and repaired they get stronger and more flexible. With intense resistance training and higher levels of protein, the muscles can actually grow much larger. Therefore there are different protein requirements depending on the type of sport and activity you do and the goals that you may have.

Whatever the exercise or sport, it is important to keep the body supplied with regular amounts of protein so that muscles can repair or grow, a state called anabolism. This means that ideally you should eat protein aloing with other foods every 2-3 hours on waking, which essentially equates to eating 5-6 smaller meals per day.

If you do not eat protein after 3 hours the body will actually start to use muscle protein for its other functions and structures, a state known as catabolism, muscle breakdown or negative nitrogen balance. For the average person this may not be an issue but for a trained athlete this is very important as essentially the muscles are wasting away and performance and strength will be hindered.

Where do I get protein from?

Rich sources of protein in foods are fish, poultry, eggs, lean meat, beans, pulses and low-fat dairy products. Vegetarians and vegans need not worry, foods such as tofu, beans, pulses and grains or quinoa are good sources of protein. If higher amounts are needed, a soya protein supplement can be used to boost protein levels.

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