Another day at the gym. Like myself, I’m sure you’ve frequently overheard a trainer turn to his buddy and say" it's all about protein shakes bro." While one can’t dispute the healthy benefits of protein, many fail to understand what protein is and how it works.
What is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient composed of building blocks called amino acids. These link together to form protein chains in different combinations. The amino acid chains must be broken down in order for us to reconstruct their order in a specific way for our bodies.
What Does Protein Do?
Protein gives you energy, helps maintain and build large muscle mass, cultivates the growth of your cells, regulates your electrolyte balance, and creates essential antibodies and hormones.
How Does Our Body Use Protein?
Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet promotes high protein consumption and gives whole grains and fruits a bad rep, saying they are the culprits of weight gain. Even worse we are taught, “we can never consume too much protein.” We think that by eating steaks, eggs and bacon we will have a lean body and defined muscle tone. However, lets learn how our body really uses protein.
First off, our body doesn’t exactly use protein, it uses amino acids. Theses long chains of amino acids make up proteins. Inevitably, these chains wear out and need to be replaced. The way we produce these replacements for protein is by consuming foods that are rich in amino acids. Our body cannot use a complex amino acid chain without rebuilding it first.
We cannot just eat animal protein (which is basically just the muscle of the animal) and expect it to turn directly into muscle in our body. Our body has to break down the amino acids from the meat and then restring the amino acids into protein chains that are specific to humans.