Proteins - Types, Properties, and Benefits
In a nutshell, proteins are the building material of the organism.
Table of contents
- What are Proteins?
- Characteristics of Proteins
- What are the properties of Proteins?
- What are Proteins used for?
- How much Protein should I take?
- Proteins and Amino Acids
- What are the main Protein Types?
- Proteins and Sports
- Proteins to diagnose diseases
- Protein supplementation
- Information and research about proteins
Proteins are huge molecules that are mainly integrated by carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms.
These atoms do not randomly form these molecules, rather, they are part of other more basic molecules called amino acids. Amino acids are basic structural units of every protein chain that is orderly bound through peptide bonds.
Proteins make up about a 50% of the dry extract from tissues of the body.
In this article, we will offer the necessary information to clarify some basic concepts when it comes to choosing protein sources or sport nutrition supplements that have these essential macronutrients for health.
In the same way that bricks are used to build a house, the proteins are used by the organism to make the tissues of the body, like muscles, skin, hair, membranes…
Apart from creating new tissue and repairing those that already exist, proteins also perform a lot of tasks to maintain the health of the body, like regulating bodily fluids, like the urine or bile, for example.
They are natural constituents of any living organism, regardless of the natural kingdom they belong to. Thus, life would not be possible without proteins. Their main tasks for a healthy functioning of the human body are:
- Encourage growth, a task that cannot be carried out by fat and carbohydrates because they lack nitrogen.
- Provide essential amino acids, which are those that cannot be synthesized by the organism and which are indispensable for a lot of biological functions.
- Act as biological catalysts, which guarantees the viability of chemical reactions in the metabolism, a task that is assigned to enzymes.
- Transport gases in the blood, a task carried out by the hemoglobin.
- Intervene decisively in the immune mechanisms as antibodies to protect health.
- Help with the muscle activity through the contractile fibrils that are based on myosin and actin molecules.
- Carry a structural function like collagen does, which is the main protein of the connective tissue.
- Although they are not considered an immediate energy supply, they provide the organism with 4 kcal per gram.
Apart from enhancing the development of muscles, protein shakes provide multiple benefits for health. If we eat enough proteins through the diet each day we will enhance the synthesis of new tissues and organic functional substances in the body, and a plastic function that consists on changing the already existing proteins in the organism in order to keep it healthy.
It is indispensable to help to create a healthy balance between the requirements and the consumption, because when we eat more than we need, the amino acids that make up proteins are reused as an energy source. However, this process generates toxic compounds that are transformed in urea and they end up being excreted through the urine.
We should take the recommended amount of protein per day, according to individual needs. This amount will be determined by our muscle mass, body weight, and the amount of physical activity that we carry out throughout the day.
There are people who have a hectic lifestyle or who perform physical work regularly, like athletes or more specifically those who want to develop their muscle mass. These individuals usually need an additional amount of protein each day, which is achieved by using protein sources like sport nutrition supplements or protein shakes.
A protein is made of a combination of amino acids. Amino acids are the fundamental components of these macronutrients. Some amino acids can be naturally produced by the body (non-essential amino acids) and others are obtained through the foods of our diet (essential amino acids).
When we eat foods with proteins, our organism metabolizes or digests them by breaking them down into amino acids. These amino acids are combined through a process known as protein synthesis to form new proteins that are useful for our body in order to build or keep the tissues healthy.
Since our organism absorbs the amino acids and not the proteins, the organism does not distinguish the origin of the protein, whether it is an Animal Protein from sources like Meat, Whey, or Egg, or from Vegetable Proteins.
Those protein sources of animal origin have a high percentage and diversity of amino acids, which gives them a high biological value and also entail a greater difficulty to be processed by the digestive system. In general, sources like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes (specially Soy Protein, Rice Protein, Pea Protein, chickpea protein, and lentil protein) and certain nuts such as walnuts can be considered the most effective protein sources. If we use sport nutrition supplements and eat foods that are rich in proteins each day, we will be able to balance the supply of essential amino acids for the body.
In particular, dairy products should be carefully considered since they have a high biological value due to their protein composition of Casein and lactalbumin. This is the case of Whey Protein, which has a high percentage of protein, which is an exceptional choice due to its price and quality and its high levels of essential amino acid.
Within whey proteins we can distinguish several types depending on the method that is used to obtain/filter the protein. At HSN, we offer the greatest variety both in products of our brands and in products of the main brands in the market. For more information, these types can be briefly classified as:
- Whey Protein Concentrate with approximately an 80% of purity. Some of the products that use this type of protein are the Evowhey Protein by HSNsports and the Whey Protein Concentrate 80% by HSNraw.
- Whey Protein Isolate is one step forward, with more than a 90% of purity and with a much lighter digestion than whey concentrate. Within the HSN brands we have two products that are exclusively made of this type of protein which are: Evolate by HSNsports and Whey Protein Isolate 100% by HSNraw.
- Hydrolyzed Proteins have the fastest absorption time. Within the HSN brands we have Evohydro by HSNsports and Evopept by HSNsports. The first one is a whey isolate hydrolyzate (its raw ingredient is Optipep90 by Carbery) and the second one is a casein hydrolyzate (its raw ingredient used is Peptopro).
With this article, we want to take the opportunity to point out that those diets that are designed with foods that are rich in protein and low in carbs are not advised for the general population. For this reason, from HSNstore.com we advise that you look for professional advice that will help you to design your diet according to your objectives, and in order to avoid any mistakes that may result in a deficiency of a nutrient.
There is not any nutritional evidence that supports an intake of more than 2 grams per kg of body weight. However, certain individuals and under certain circumstances (competition diets, or weight loss diets to combat obesity) could follow this type of diets, but always under professional supervision.
Similarly, the effects of a hyperproteic nutrition have been specially considered by this sector, since an adequate supply of these nutrients can help with the ability to recover and to modulate the sport performance.
When we plan the nutrition of an athlete we must not fall into the trap of increasing the foods that are rich in proteins, even if they have exceptional benefits for health like strengthening the muscle system and its tendons and ligaments. Certainly, more often than not we tend to bloat the role of the protein in the diet of sportspeople.
The protein levels in the blood are very useful markers in some cases to diagnose diseases. Particularly, the c-reactive protein is very important to detect inflammations and infections and, thus, it can diagnose diseases like cancer and heart diseases very quickly.
Diagnosing health problems based on the use of protein can also be done through urine samples. The abnormal increase of protein in the urine is known as proteinuria and it is a symptom of diseases such as diabetes, medicine poisoning, multiple myeloma, or lupus.
This article has become specially relevant nowadays, because protein supplementation is quite common, not only among the field of sport nutrition, but anyone who seeks to establish healthy habits can start taking protein shakes.
It is generally advised to take proteins before and/or after intense physical exercise, as well as other optional intakes, such as breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or between meals, as long as we do not exceed the amount of protein per day.
How to take proteins? This is another recurring question in the protein supplementation field, and there is actually not a right answer, since it is a source of protein and as such, a food.
In this sense, proteins have a lot of uses: from protein shakes, which we can mix with water, milk, or even fruit juices, we can even use it to elaborate and eat home-made recipes, such as the famous Oatmeal and Egg White Pancakes, Fitness Sponge Cakes, Protein Biscuits, Protein Flan, or even Protein Pizzas!
We hope that this article was useful. On our website, we will help you to discover what proteins and amino acids are, and what are their functions as well as the types that exist. Each element has an individual article to give you as much information as possible which based on research related to proteins. If you need to know what food products you have to eat to increase the amount of protein in your diet, you will be able to find protein-rich foods.