Protein has been promoted in bodybuilding circles as something of a wonder drug. Ubiquitous ads tempt people to purchase giant cans of protein powder, protein shakes, and other protein products to build muscles and develop an ideal bodybuilder’s physique. As a result, many people, whether they are bodybuilders or not, are consuming significant amounts of protein well beyond the recommended dietary allowance of .8 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body weight.
Protein is one of the nutrients that the body needs in large amounts. Protein, together with carbohydrates and fats, is essential for the human body. Proteins are made of small compounds called amino acids. Out of the hundreds of amino acids existing in nature, the human body utilizes only 22 of them.
The human body can generally get all the essential amino acids it needs through a healthy diet. The food we eat contains different combinations of amino acids. Animal proteins, such as meat, dairy, and eggs, contain essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins are also rich in amino acids.
Function of Protein
Protein acts as the major building block of the human body. It develops and maintains tissue. We need more protein during periods of growth, such as infancy and childhood. There is also an increased need for protein when people are injured, undergo surgery, or are actively exercising.
The human body uses only the amount of protein that it needs during a given period of time. If you consume all your protein in one meal, much of the protein will just be going to waste. If you don’t eat protein in ongoing meals, your body may then be short on the nutrient. Thus, it’s important to spread out your protein consumption throughout the day.
Recommended Amounts of Protein
The amount of protein people need depends on their size and how active they are. A 6-foot man weighing 280 pounds who exercises daily will need much more protein than a 5-foot woman who weighs 120 pounds and rarely exercises. The recommended allowance for adults is.8 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body weight. This is the minimum; an active lifestyle usually fuels the need for more.
If you consume only modest amounts of protein but exercise a lot, your body may start consuming the protein in your muscles. This will cause you to lose muscle mass instead of gaining it. Bodybuilders must take special care to make sure that they consume more protein than they burn.