Updated: Sep 3
After this article, you will never forget to take your proteins.
What is protein? We all know it helps build muscles. Some of us even know its good for our hair, nails, and bones. But what protein does and why we can't survive without out it.
Protein is a large molecule that contains from 10 to 100 amino acid molecules. These amino acids are linked together by a peptide bond. Amino acids are essential for individual roles in the body, not only for building blocks of protein. Some are responsible for metabolic processes, others help transmit nerve impulses.
We need proteins for growth, for maintenance, repair of cells in our body, not only muscle cells—proteins involved in the production of enzymes, hormones, and DNA expression. Proteins are responsible for skeletal and other muscle movements, hormones production, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factors. It is a component of connective tissues, joints, oxygen transporter, enzymes production for digestion, and many more.
Let's talk about amino acids in general and one at a time. They are classified into 3 categories.
Indispensable - our body cannot synthesize and need a supply from our diet.
Conditionally Indispensable - requires to be provided by our diet when our body synthesis rate doesn't meet metabolic needs.
Dispensable - our bodies can make them as needed.
Just eating a fixed amount of proteins is not enough for our optimum health. The type of protein will affect how it is used by the body. Different kinds of proteins contain different amino acids that are involved in various roles in our bodies.
Let's look at the first group of amino acids that our bodies do not produce.
Histidine - essential in the growth and repair of human tissue. Formation and maintenance of hemoglobin, the oxygen transport blood in red blood cells.
Isoleucine - also needed for the formation of hemoglobin. But involved in the regulation of blood sugar and metabolized for energy in muscle tissue when exercising.
Leucine - energy production during exercise. May stimulate the release of insulin, which increases protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown.
Lysine - growth and bone development helps with calcium absorption. Enhances immune system function helps fighting cold sores and herpes viruses. Involves in the formation of collagen, enzymes, and other compounds. Together with Vitamin B1, B6 and C help form Carnitine, a compound that the body uses to produce energy from fatty acids.
Methionine - involved in the metabolic process vital in forming several compounds involved in the synthesis of creatine and essential in muscle performance, removes metabolic waste products from the liver, and assists in the breakdown of fat and prevent fatty build up in the liver and arteries.
Phenylalanine - is a precursor of several vital metabolites, like melanin (skin pigment) and several catecholamine neurotransmitters (memory, learning, sex drive, tissue growth and repair, immune system functioning, locomotion, and appetite control). This amino acid suppresses appetite by producing a hormone responsible for the "I am full" message. Also, it is useful in combating pain by protecting endorphins in the body from destruction.
Threonine - an essential component of collagen, tooth enamel, protein, and elastic tissue. May act as a lipotropic agent, preventing fatty buildup in the liver.
Tryptophan - is essential for producing of Vitamin B3 and serotonin. Calming effects, promotion of sleep, and treatment for depression. Serotonin helps control the sleep cycle. Also has been reported to increase Growth Hormone levels.
Valine - Used for energy for exercising muscles. Involved in tissue repair, nitrogen balance, and muscle metabolism.
The other group of amino acids that needs to be supplemented from our diet as our bodies may not synthesize them efficiently.
Arginine - stimulating the release of the human Growth Hormone (somatropin). The benefits of increased GH levels are a reduction in body fat, improved healing, and recovery of increased muscle growth. Arginine helps enhance immune system function, protein synthesis, ammonia removal, and creatine synthesis.
Cysteine - vital role in helping many protein molecules hold their shape together as they are carried around the body. Important in the formation of skin and hair.
Glutamine - improves immune system function, has anti-catabolic effects, reduction in cortisol levels, improvement in wound healing, the energy source in certain cells, elevate GH levels, stimulates glycogen synthesis, prevents the overtraining syndrome, promotes anabolic effect, supports the blood buffering system, promote gastrointestinal tract health.
Glycine - responsible for producing protein, DNA, phospholipids, collagen, and creatine, has also been shown to increase Growth Hormone levels and energy release.
Proline - is vital in the maintenance and healing of collagen tissues such as the skin, tendons, and cartilage.
Tyrosine - is producing dopamine, regulates appetite, and aids in melanin skin pigment production. An antidepressant and an increased sex drive in men have also been shown with tyrosine supplementation.
The last group is Dispensable.
Alanine - this amino acid is involved in the glucose-alanine cycle, serves to conserve energy in the form of glycogen. This helps maintain glucose levels during prolonged exercise.
Aspartic Acid - helps reduce the blood ammonia levels after exercise.
Asparagine - involved in the central nervous system, helps prevent both extreme nervousness and extreme calmness.
Glutamic Acid - vital for the proper metabolism of carbohydrates, involved in removing ammonia from the muscles, produces energy from BCAAs.
Serine - has anti-catabolic effects, significant in brain and nervous system health function. Important in the metabolism of fat and the promotion of a healthy immune system.
All of these amino acids form proteins. This is why they play a crucial role in our diet.
What products are high in protein we talk in another blog.
Thank you for reading, and don't forget to take proteins with each of your meals.