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Proteins are the basic pillars to build our body. To explain what proteins are in a simple and correct way, we can talk about them as the building material for our organism.
What are proteins?
Proteins are big molecules consisting of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen atoms.
These atoms do not randomly form the protein molecules, but they are part of other more basic molecules called amino acids. Amino acids are basic structural units of all protein chains that are orderly bound through peptide bonds.
Proteins constitute about 50% of the dry extract from tissues.
Hereafter, we will offer the necessary information so that we clearly understand the basic concepts when choosing protein rich supplements or food.
As if we were talking about blocks to build a house, proteins are used by our body to build tissues such as muscles, skin, hair, membranes...
En relation to protein functions, as well as creating new tissue and repairing those that already exist, proteins have a lot of regulating functions, such as regulating bodily fluids, like urine or bile.
What are the properties of proteins?
They are naturally in any alive organism, no matter the natural kingdom it belongs to. Thus, life would not be possible without proteins. Their main functions in the human body are:
Enhance growth. Fat and carbohydrates cannot replace this function as they lack nitrogen.
Provide essential amino acids. Some amino acids cannot be synthesised by the human body and are needed for multiple biological functions.
Biological catalysts. They guarantee the viability of the chemical reactions in the body, enzymatic functions.
Blood gas transport, a hemoglobin function.
Intervene in the immune mechanisms as antibodies.
Contribute to muscle activity through contractile muscle fibres based on myosin and actin molecules.
Structural function like collagen, the main protein of the connective tissue.
Although they are not considered an immediate energy supply, they provide the organism with 4 kcal per protein gramme.
What are protein used for?
In addition to enhancing muscle development, protein shakes have multiple other health benefits. A regular protein intake through diet has the main objective of allowing the synthesis of new tissues and functional organic substances, and developing a plastic function to relief present proteins in the organism.
It’s very important to ensure a balance between the needs and the intake, as when the intake exceeds the needs, protein amino acids are recycled as an energy source; but amino acid expenditure generates toxic compounds that are transformed in urea and end up being excreted through urine.
How much protein should we take?
We should take the daily recommended amount of protein, according to our particular needs. This amount is determined by our muscle mass and the amount of physical activity we do throughout the day.
There are people who lead a very active life or who perform physical work on a continuous basis like athletes or more specifically those athletes who seek to develop muscle mass. These individuals must obtain an additional amount of protein, by consuming sports supplements such as protein shakes.
Proteins and Amino Acids
Proteins are made of a combination of amino acids. Amino acids are the fundamental components of proteins. Some amino acids can be produced naturally by the body (non-essential amino acids) and others need to be obtained through food (essential amino acids = amino acids to be provided by the diet).
When we eat foods that contain proteins, our body metabolizes or digests the proteins by breaking them down into amino acids. These amino acids are combined through a process known as protein synthesis to form new proteins useful for our body to build or maintain tissues.
Which are the main protein types?
As our body assimilates amino acids and not proteins, the body does not distinguish the origin of the ingested proteins whether they are Animal Proteins, from sources such as Meat, Whey or Egg, or Vegetable Proteins.
Those of animal origin contain more quantity and diversity of amino acids, which gives them a greater biological value and also entails a greater difficulty to be processed by the digestive system. In general, meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes (especially Soy Protein, Rice Protein, Pea Protein, Chickpea Protein and Lentil Protein) and certain nuts such as walnuts can be considered the most effective food products as a source of proteins. A combined consumption of these protein-rich foods is convenient to balance the essential amino acid body supply.
In particular, dairy products, of great biological value due to their protein composition in casein and lactalbumin, should be considered. This is the specific case of Whey Protein, which contains a high percentage of protein content, resulting to be an exceptional choice of value for money and high levels of essential amino acids.
Within whey proteins we can distinguish several types depending on the method used to obtain/filter the protein. At HSNstore we offer the greatest variety both in products of our HSN brands and in products of the main brands on the market. These types can be summarized in:
Hydrolyzed Proteins, which are the most rapidly absorbed. Within the HSN range we have Evohydro from HSN Sports and Evopept from HSN Sports. The first is a whey isolate hydrolyzate (the raw material used in this product is Optipep90 from Carbery) and the second is a casein hydrolyzate (the raw material used in this product is Peptopro).
Why do athletes stick to a high protein diet?
When designing a diet for athletes we should not make the mistake of getting obsessed with protein-rich foods, keeping in mind its important role in strengthening muscles, cartilages and ligaments. Sometimes, the same mistake is repeated over an over again and diets for athletes keep being designed with a too high protein content.
It should be taken into account that high-protein and low-carb diets are absolutely not recommended for this section of the population. For that reason HSNstore recommends professional advice in order to not make nutritional mistakes.
There isn’t any nutritional evidence supporting an intake greater than 2 grams per body weight. However, for certain individuals and under certain circumstances (competition diets, or weight loss diets) it could be established, but always with professional prescription.
Similarly, the effects of a high protein content diet are especially considered by this sector, because with an adequate supply of these nutrients there is an improvement in the recovery capacity and it modulates athletic performance.
Proteins in disease diagnosis
The protein levels in blood are very useful markers in some cases to diagnose diseases. Among the proteins used to detect health problems, we may highlight c-reactive protein, which is used to detect inflammation and infections and thus, can quickly diagnose diseases such as cancer and heart conditions, among others.
Diagnosing health problems based on the use of protein as markers can also be done through urine samples. The abnormal increase of protein in the urine is known as proteinuria and is a symptom of diseases such as diabetes, drug poisoning, multiple myeloma or lupus.
Nowadays, protein supplementation is quite common, not only among the sports population, but anyone who seeks to establish healthy habits can start taking protein shakes.
When to take proteins? It is generally recommended before and/or after intense physical exercise, as well as other optional intakes, such as breakfast, as afternoon snack or between meals, as long as we do not exceed our daily amount of protein.
How to take proteins? This is another recurring question in the protein supplementation field, and the answer is truly wide-ranging, as it is a source of protein, and thus taken with food.
In this sense, proteins have a wide range of uses: from protein shakes, which we can mix with water, milk or even fruit juices, to using it in the elaboration of home-made recipes, such as the famous Oatmeal and egg white pancakes, Fitness Sponge Cakes, Protein Cookies, Protein Flan, or even Protein Pizzas!
Protein Information and Research
On our website you can discover what proteins and amino acids are, and their functions as well as the types of proteins and different amino acids that exist. You will find details based on research related to proteins. If you need to know what food products to take to increase the amount of protein in your diet, here you will also find protein-rich foods.