What exactly is protein?
Think of protein as strings of sausages. Long strings – some many thousands. Each sausage represents one of 15 similar small molecules called amino acids. The order of amino acids in the chain is programmed by DNA. “Amino” means that they contain nitrogen, but they also contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In order to do their jobs, proteins curl up into characteristic shapes, and many of them need to incorporate minerals or vitamins in order to function.
Some proteins are solid, some are flexible in cell membranes, others are mobile in solutions.
So, what happens when we eat protein in our food?
The cells in your intestine cannot absorb whole proteins, only single amino acids or very small chains of two or three amino acids – called peptides. So digestive enzymes (specialised proteins themselves!) break down the proteins into their component amino acids – essentially, cutting the string between the sausages.
The amino acids and peptides are absorbed into the bloodstream and safely delivered at different parts around your body where they are required, either to make new proteins or to be used to release energy. Most arrive first at the liver, where most new protein are made, and where excess protein is broken down ready for burning as a fuel for metabolism.
When we workout, we create hundreds and thousands of 'micro' tears in our muscle fibres which are made up of proteins. To begin the repair process and increase the recovery rate, ingesting protein will aid in the recovery process and repair the micro tears created in the muscle tissues.
You might notice as well that when you eat a protein based meal compared to a starch based meal you feel fuller faster. This is due to amount of effort to breakdown and digest the protein as it is quite dense.
What does all that mean?
-Consuming protein is going to aid in maintaining lean muscle mass
-Reduce recovery time
-Boost your Metabolism
-Provide a feeling of satiety (feel fuller for longer)
*Recommended Sources of Protein to Aim For
-Fish (White and Red Fish)
Including more protein in your diet is something alot of struggle with on a day to day basis but is something to work hard at including.