Why Is Consuming Proteins So Important?

30 September, 2020
Consuming proteins on a daily basis is important. We'll tell you more about this essential macronutrient and its functions in the following article.

Knowing what proteins are is fundamental. These nutrients, that come from our diet, are essential, and fulfill many different functions in the body. Therefore, consuming proteins is very important.

Below, we’re going to tell you in detail everything you need to know about them. Once you’re clear about the health implications of protein, you’ll probably pay more attention to meeting the demands of this nutrient.

Macronutrients

There are 3 types of macronutrients: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. We call them macronutrients because we find them in high quantities in different food, and they allow us to satisfy our bodies’ energy needs.

The specific functions of proteins are diverse. We find them in animal and plant-based foods and they form part of the cellular structures and tissues. Therefore, guaranteeing a correct intake helps prevent the loss of muscular mass.

Current scientific literature states that not ingesting the necessary proteins is one of the risk factors that can cause sarcopenia. This disease causes progressive destruction of muscle and loss of strength throughout the body.

In addition, proteins have many other physiological and anatomical implications. They can act as enzymes, catalyzing internal reactions in cells and the internal environment. This would be an acceleration of processes that, normally, are slow. It’s even possible to transform them into glucose at a hepatic level to produce energy.

The muscles of the arm.
One of the main functions of protein is the formation of muscle tissue.

You may also want to read: Fats Are Essential in the Diet

Consuming proteins for proper body composition

A protein deficiency can lead to disease. Until recently, experts believed that an excess of proteins was also harmful. However, nowadays falling short is more worrisome than going overboard when it comes to consuming proteins.

Despite the fact that proteins in the body are capable of performing very diverse tasks, their most relevant function is structural. In the case of athletes, guaranteeing the right amount is essential when it comes to muscle growth.

While sedentary individuals should consume 0.019 ounces of this nutrient per pound of weight per day, in athletes this consumption is close to 0.032 ounces.

A recent review of studies published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition even recommends raising the intake to .048 ounces per pound of weight per day in those individuals who suffer from increased muscle wasting.

But it’s not only in the context of sports that it’s important to monitor the consumption of proteins. Protein helps to prevent and reduce the cachexia processes associated with cancer, according to experts. This condition consists of a progressive loss of weight and muscle that increases the risk of death in cancer patients.

Find out more: The Right Diet For People With Cancer

Does consuming proteins affect kidney function?

One of the arguments used to limit protein intake was that its excessive consumption could produce damage to the liver and kidneys in the medium term. For this reason, experts recommended no more than 0.013 ounces of this nutrient per pound of weight for people with a high degree of sedentarism.

However, a review published in 2017 analyzed the results of several studies that involved the administration of high doses of dietary protein over a long period of time. The results of most of these revealed no damage to the kidneys. For this reason, experts now consider high-protein diets to be safe.

Not all proteins are alike

So, now you understand the importance of consuming proteins. However, not all those provided through the diet have the same quality. There are two fundamental classes, according to their origin: animals or plants.

Animal proteins present a greater biological value. This means that they contain all the essential amino acids for the human body (those that the body isn’t capable of producing) and also present an acceptable level of digestibility.

In contrast, vegetable proteins are usually lacking in some essential amino acids. In addition, their digestibility is lower, which conditions their absorption. They’re also necessary for a varied diet, but experts advise making sure that at least 50% of the proteins in the diet are of animal origin.

In order for you to understand the importance of essential amino acids, we’ll highlight that some of them are involved in the maintenance of muscle mass. This is the case of leucine, which is capable of stimulating the body’s anabolic pathways, increasing the formation of lean tissue.

Recent research published in The Journal of Nutrition assures that supplementation with this amino acid in an isolated manner is capable of preventing muscle loss in the elderly. Just the same, food will always be the best way to incorporate it.

Plant-based sources of protein.
Plant-based proteins should also form part of our diet, but it’s less digestible than animal protein.

Be sure to introduce proteins in sufficient quantities in your diet

We’ve looked at the importance of protein in the diet. A deficient consumption of this nutrient will condition muscular health as well as other physiological reactions, such as the formation of certain hormones.

To make sure that you consume the amount of protein you need, it’s key that you analyze your diet. If an animal-based food appears at every main meal, it’s unlikely that you are deficient. In any case, try to guarantee the presence of vegetable proteins in your snacks as well.

Until a few years ago, experts believed that the correct thing was to ingest 0.013 ounces of protein per pound of body weight in a day. But nowadays, the recommendation has increased. Don’t neglect consumption and, in the long run, your health will reap the benefits.

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