If you are in possession of a body made from skin, muscle, bone, etc, I guarantee that you will read something in this blog series that will change the way you eat, or at least think about eating.
The Protein Chronicles is a blog series for everybody.
Right now various systems within your body are going through cycles of breaking down and re-building. As an owner-operator, putting a little effort into building maintenance just makes sense.
There will be 3 posts in this series so make sure you check back to get the full benefit of everything protein can do for you, regardless of activity level, body composition, performance goals, gender or age.
Protein Builds Stuff
We have over 10,000 different proteins, from simple to complex, that make muscles, skin, nails, hair, every cell wall, every organ, hormone, enzyme….every single thing.
Some proteins are structures of only 4 units, others like myosin (a protein in our muscles that converts chemical energy to mechanical energy, thus generating force and movement) have thousands.
Every day we have significant protein turnover so we have to keep making them.
Essentially, we are always under construction and we always need delivery of quality materials to build with.
We replace every single protein in our bodies at least 4 times per year. Some more frequently.
Proteins are used in every metabolic action or reaction. Suffice to say they’re ever-present.
They are also the only macronutrient (carbohydrates and fats being the other 2) that contains nitrogen.
What Are Proteins Built With?
The building blocks of proteins are amino acids. Nitrogen is present in each amino acid.
Think about proteins as words, there are tens of thousands of them.
And think about amino acids as the letters of the alphabet.
You get to arrange 26 letters in many different ways to build the words you need.
Five of those 26 letters are vowels, they are the most essential.
Well....you have 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential.
Your body, or more accurately your DNA, orchestrates the particular arrangement of these amino acids to build the tens of thousands of proteins it needs to construct - you.
The nine essential amino acids are deemed essential because the body can’t make them, so we bear a responsibility to ingest them. These are the amino acids that are most susceptible to deficiencies.
I am going to flag one of these essential amino acids, critical for all of us who want to protect our muscle mass (which should be every body) - LEUCINE.
I’ll come back to leucine throughout this blog series.
Leucine is one of the 3 essential amino acids also known as the Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). The BCAA’s have a unique branched chemical structure.
All BCAA’s are essential but not all essential amino acids are branch chained.
If you focus on consuming your nine essential amino acids instead of just BCAA’s you are covered! The sports marketing industry has contributed to confusion in this matter and will happily sell you both BCAA’s and protein powders that already contain all of the essential amino acids.
When it comes to the 11 non-essential amino acids, the body can make them.
Our job is simple, procure enough amino acids through food choices, to give the body all it needs to consistently build and rebuild.
Bonus Protein Information
For those of you who are focused on body fat loss, know that proteins, at 20-30%, have the highest thermogenic effect of all the macronutrients. This means there is a 20-30% energy cost to digesting and metabolising them e.g, if you eat 100 calories of protein, only 70 of those calories would be considered useable.
That energy cost or thermogenic effect adds up day over day.
Compare this to the thermogenic effect of carbohydrates at 5-10% and fats at 0-3%.
Plus a higher protein meal positivity impacts satiety hormones. You feel full and satisfied for longer.
One study showed that dieters who increased their protein intake to 30% of their total calories ate 450 fewer calories per day and lost an average of 11 pounds over a 12 week study without trying.
Protein Part 2 will continue with a focus on muscle tissue and that’s not because I work with many athletes. It’s because everybody's health and body composition, especially as we age, is determined, to a large extent, by the quality and quantity of muscle tissue.
Muscle-centric health is a growing focus in the healthcare field.
Don't want to wait for all 3 parts of this blog series to start making changes?
Then do this.
Make sure you ingest a minimum of 30g of protein in your first meal of the day.
Concentrate the rest of your protein at meal times V spreading it out in smaller amounts.
Focus on getting between 1.2-1.8 grams protein per kilogram per day (all dependant on lean body mass, life circumstance and activity level) but remember to get it in those 30g amounts.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, think about introducing a soya/pea or plant based protein isolate. You are going to need more total protein because bioavailability from plant sources is simply less.
If nutrition is an area of your health that you find confusing and you’d like to replace that confusion with confidence, reach out - firstname.lastname@example.org - or make sure you hit that FOLLOW button.
I work with everybody.