Understanding proteins and your body

Yogurt

Protein is an essential part of any meal plan, whether you’re looking to lose weight, increase muscle mass, or simply lead a healthy, well-balanced life. Certain foods contain more protein than others and so, it’s important to understand the effects of protein on the body.

Here we’ll examine all of this and more.

What is Protein?

seafood

Let’s start by discussing exactly what protein is. Protein is one of the major food groups which is generally obtained from following food items:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans/Peas
  • Eggs
  • Seeds/Nuts
  • Cheese/Yogurt
  • Protein powder

When consumed, protein helps the body to build and repair tissue – it’s what your hair and nails are mostly made of. It also helps your body make certain chemicals, enzymes, and hormones. And perhaps, most importantly, protein is responsible for building bones, skin, cartilage, muscles and blood.

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

Protein

The amount of protein you should eat is based on several factors including age, sex, weight, and level of activity. Because protein is a macronutrient, your body needs rather high amounts of it to function along with fats and carbohydrates. But the difference between these compounds is that your body doesn’t store protein, which means it always needs replenishing.

One myth about protein is that the more you eat, the more muscle you build. This isn’t completely true. Your body builds muscle mainly through exercise. Sure, adding protein to your diet helps, but you don’t need an exorbitant amount.

Children under six years old only need two, five ounce servings of protein per day. Surprisingly, older children, teen girls, and active women only need two more ounces per day than previously mentioned – meaning two, six ounce servings of protein per day is enough. Only active men and teenage boys require quite a bit more with three servings of seven ounces of protein per day.

You Can Eat Too Much Protein

Yogurt

Too much of anything can be bad for anyone and protein is no exception. You can eat too much protein if you’re not careful. Too much protein can actually lead to weight gain, which can be extremely frustrating for those looking to lose weight.

Remember how we said that your body doesn’t naturally store protein? If you consume more protein than your body needs and you don’t use it for energy through exercise, your body will store it as fat.

How Protein Can Lead to Weight Loss

weight-loss

So, if consuming too much protein can make you gain weight, how can you use protein consumption to your benefit? The most popular way to lose weight is by adopting a high-protein, low-carb diet. By consuming high-protein foods and few carbohydrates, your body’s metabolism shifts into a state of ketosis.

During ketosis, your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. Ketosis not only burns stored fat, but also helps release water weight in the urine and suppresses your appetite. But there are some things to consider before adopting this type of diet.

Excess of protein can lead to weight loss, but it can also have other physical effects on the body. Your body produces a hormone known as ammonia to break down protein. Ammonia is then turned into urea and released through urine. Complications with the liver often result in increased levels of ammonia in the body, which may not be released through the urine. There is no medical diagnosis for what happens if the body holds increased levels of ammonia, but it is something to consider before high-protein consumption.

Another chemical that the body releases to help with protein breakdown is calcium. Excessive calcium loss can lead to osteoporosis.

Some Things You Didn’t Know

Now that you understand exactly what proteins are and what they can do for your body, let’s discuss some interesting, lesser known facts about these molecules.

Cheese Lovers

cheese

Cheese lovers rejoice! Many cheeses contain some levels of protein that your body needs to function properly. But did you know that of all the cheeses, Parmesan cheese actually has the most protein with over 40 grams per serving? So sprinkle a little extra on your pasta and don’t feel bad about it!

Seeds

Did your parents ever tell you not to swallow watermelon seeds or one would grow in your belly? Well, of course we know that’s not true, so if you didn’t listen to your parents, you were actually getting 28 grams of protein per 100-gram serving of watermelon seeds. Want even more protein? Turn to pumpkin or squash seeds – they offer 33 grams per serving.

Meat Lovers

Meat

Most carnivores love a good steak, and though you’ll get a nice dose of protein from red meat, poultry actually offers more protein than steak. Another interesting fact? Cows (beef) were once the most popular meat consumed for protein, but is now taking a backseat to pigs (pork). Bacon, anyone?

Use Protein for Good

Protein is a major part of anyone’s diet, whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle, or simply stay healthy. But it’s important to eat protein in moderation, based on your activity level. And due to other health complications associated with eating an excess of red meat, it’s important to balance your protein intake between other sources like poultry, seafood, eggs, and beans.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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