Protein – What Is It, and Why Do We Need It?

Protein, we’ve all heard of protein shakes, protein bars, and high-protein diets, but what is protein, and why do we need it?

Well, protein is made up of amino acids that the body cannot make on its own. It also happens to be the building block of our muscle, skin, bones and other tissue, so it’s pretty important. It follows closely behind water as the most essential component in the building and repairing of tissue. If you were to remove all the water from the body, about half of what is left would be protein. Most people underestimate just how much protein they need, and do not get enough protein in their diets.

So, what foods contain protein? I’m often asked this question, and I find that the easiest way to remember is that protein comes from animals, whether it be  meat, fish, shellfish or chicken, as well as from animal products, such as milk, cheese, and eggs.

You also can obtain protein from nuts and legumes, soy, and other grains and vegetables. Animal protein, however, contains all the essential amino acids that make up a whole protein. Vegetable proteins, on the other hand, lack all the essential amino acids, and they need to be blended together so to get a whole protein, otherwise it is incomplete.

What Does Protein Do?

Well, basically, protein is essential for building muscle, and for the repair of body tissue. Without protein, our body cannot build muscle, and without muscle, our bodies become weak, our immune system lowers, our metabolism drops and we start to gain weight rather than lose weight. The more muscle we have in our body, the more calories we burn, and the more weight we can lose! Muscle also gives our bodies a more attractive, toned look, and that’s exactly what we want, right?

Protein also produces enzymes, hormones and other substances that the body uses, and it helps with such body processes as balancing water, dispersing various nutrients and keeping our bodies healthy.

Protein and Exercise:

We’ve all heard of protein shakes, protein bars and the various protein supplements taken by athletes and people trying to lose weight, but what is the benefit of   having protein after exercise?

Well, as protein is responsible for aiding muscle recovery, as well as building new muscle, there are a couple of things to note: When it comes to building muscle, you need a really good, high quality protein source that contains all the amino acids. It should also be in a form that is easily digested, so that it can be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly and get to work immediately after exercise.

The best way of getting protein into your bloodstream and to your muscles fast is by taking a Whey based protein supplement. These are available in the form of Whey protein powders, protein shakes and protein bars. Some of you may think that protein shakes are only for bulky body builders with bulging muscles, but the truth is that we can all benefit from taking in extra protein after exercise. Trust me, you will not end up looking like Arnie by using a protein powder every day.

So, make sure, you have that protein shake, protein bar, or protein supplement ready and on hand for when you have just smashed out an awesome workout at the gym, with your trainer, or doing one of the amazing Les Mills group fitness classes. The extra protein will help repair your muscles, and put all that exercise to good use building a strong, lean and fabulous physique.

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