What Is Protein?

It could seem like you only need to eat protein. On the other hand, proteins are the building blocks of life. They are found in every single cell in your body. Protein is the most prevalent substance in your body, next to water.

Apart from aiding in the growth of your muscles, bones, skin, and hair, protein is also required for the production of enzymes that propel cellular chemical reactions, antibodies that protect the body from infections, and hormones that transmit messages throughout the body.

The smallest components that make up proteins are amino acids. 20 different kinds of amino acids may be found in diets rich in protein. Nine of them are considered essential, meaning that the human body cannot make them on its own. Our bodies combine all 20 amino acids in different ways to produce the essential proteins. 

Benefits of Protein

The proteins in your body are constantly being replenished and restored. This suggests that you need to keep eating meals rich in protein and essential amino acids to keep your body working correctly. 

Protein becomes significantly more essential during times of growth or increased bodily activity, such as during infancy, puberty, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. 

Protein provides energy in the same way as fats and carbohydrates do. However, that is not its main purpose. Proteins have a few special uses. Among the advantages of protein are the following:

It helps your body maintain the proper fluid balance. Sufficient protein levels aid in the maintenance of appropriate water levels in the bloodstream.

It rebuilds and repairs tissues. This is especially important when one is going through a time of personal growth, sickness, or recovering from an injury. It’s especially important as you become older since eating adequate protein may help prevent the loss of bone and muscle.

It results in thromboses. The wound instantly produces protein fibers to plug it and stop the bleeding.

It is responsible for maintaining several body systems. The bulk of hemoglobin, the component of blood that carries oxygen throughout your body, is made up of protein. Furthermore, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, insulin, is a protein.

The following benefits of consuming the recommended amount of protein may also be experienced:

making you feel satiated, which will aid in weight reduction

muscles repairing themselves after exercise


Not Enough Protein

Roughly a billion people globally do not get enough protein in their diets. In certain countries, up to one-third of children do not consume enough protein, which may lead to developmental delays and other problems. Most Americans, including children, have more than enough. However, elderly people are less likely to follow health organizations’ suggested dosage. 

Elderly people who consume insufficient amounts of protein are more susceptible to frailty, a condition marked by weakness, fatigue, sluggishness, and unintentional weight loss. Being feeble increases one’s vulnerability to disease or harm. 

Kwashiorkor is a condition in which children eat unusually low quantities of protein. Such malnutrition might potentially hinder development. The most obvious symptom is an enlarged abdomen. In addition, it could cause hair loss, dry, peeling skin, weariness, and irritation. In developed countries, the illness is rare. 

Daily Consumption of Protein 

We all require protein, even though not everyone needs the same quantity. Our needs vary depending on our age, weight, and other factors. Individuals allocated as male at birth often need more than those assigned as female, and additional needs apply if you are expecting or breastfeeding a baby. People who are injured, unwell, or recovering from surgery could need more. More protein should be consumed by athletes, according to certain health groups.

The National Academy of Medicine, which sets the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) that are integrated into official government guidelines, recommends that most Americans eat at least the amount of protein recommended. Young or middle-aged men are less prone to consume insufficient amounts of protein. Many individuals between the ages of 19 and 59 get more than is recommended, often as a result of diets heavy in eggs, meat, and poultry. 

Age-specific needs for proteins: 

The National Academy of Medicine states that for every kilogram of body weight, an individual should eat 0.8 grams of protein each day. That works out to around 7 grams for every 20 pounds. The research indicates that youngsters and newborns get somewhat more eggs—newborns receive 2 grams per kilogram and teens receive 0.85 grams. To convert your weight from pounds to kilograms, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2046. The amount of grams of protein needed for an adult is then obtained by multiplying that number by 0.8.) Based on the needs, an adult weighing 150 pounds would require around 54 grams of protein daily.

By the standards, generally speaking: 

  • A newborn need around 10 grams every day.
  • School-age children need 19–34 grams each day.
  • Male adolescents from birth need 52 grams every day.
  • Adolescents with a feminine biological gender need 46 grams daily.
  • Male individuals who are assigned at birth need around 56 grams per day.
  • Adults assigned to the feminine gender at birth need around 46 grams per day (71 grams if pregnant or breastfeeding).

To put those numbers into perspective, consider that a 3-ounce portion of chicken or fish includes around 20 grams of protein, an ounce of almonds has about 7 grams, and a cup of milk or half a cup of cooked beans has about 8 grams.

According to the Academy, you should consume no more than 35% of your daily calories from protein, but at least 10% should. Therefore, you should have 200–700 calories from protein out of your daily 2,000 calories.

Aging and protein

As we age, eating adequate protein becomes more important. This is because, starting in our 30s and accelerating with each passing decade, we naturally lose muscle. Sarcopenia is the term used to describe this loss of muscle and strength. This may ultimately increase your risk of fragility, falls, and broken bones in addition to making living alone more difficult for you. Getting enough protein in your diet may assist to prevent or delay muscular atrophy. You may also be able to maintain stronger bones.

Many aging experts suggest that persons over 65 aim for the higher end of the daily protein intake guidelines, which is up to 35 percent of total calories from protein. 

Protein, pregnancy, and breastfeeding

Throughout your pregnancy, you need extra protein to support your body’s changes and your unborn child’s development. Protein becomes even more important during the first trimester of pregnancy, when the baby grows at its highest rate and your body is under a lot of stress. Studies show that in the latter two thirds of their pregnancy, about one in eight pregnant American women do not get enough protein.

To keep your child’s health and your own intact, you as a nursing mother need to keep eating more protein and calories. 

Athletes and protein

Some health groups do advocate higher protein intake for physically active individuals, despite the National Academy of Sciences’ claim that there is not enough evidence to support this claim. If you run, swim, cycle, or engage in other endurance sports, aim for 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Dietetic Association, and Dieticians of Canada. If you lift weights or do other strength training exercises, the organizations recommend ingesting 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per day for every kilogram you weigh. 

Studies show that getting enough protein in your diet promotes muscle development and facilitates your body’s recovery after exercise.

Unfavorable Responses to Too Much Protein

You can eat too much protein. People who consume high protein diets or use a lot of protein supplements may have health issues.

Among the possible results are:

Kidney damage: The kidneys are strained by a diet high in protein. If you already have problems with your kidneys, you are more at risk. If you see frothy pee, it means that there is too much protein in your urine. You should contact a doctor very once.

Dehydration: If your kidneys are working too hard to handle the extra protein in your body, your body may get dehydrated and exhibit symptoms like dry lips, dry skin, and thirst.

Stomach problems: Eating too much protein, especially red meat, may put stress on your digestive system and result in symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. 

Weight problems: Adding additional calories from protein might make it harder to maintain or lose weight if you don’t make any other calorie decreases.

Bad breath: Diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates cause ketosis, a condition in which your body burns fat for energy. Bad breath is one side effect of ketosis. But most ketogenic diets, which help with weight reduction and are used to treat various medical issues, are far higher in fat than in protein.

If your high-protein diet includes a lot of red meat, processed meats, and saturated fat, you run the risk of raising dangerous cholesterol and heart disease. 

Good Protein Sources

Foods include protein in almost every form. Certain foods have more than others. Whether or whether you eat meat, you can still receive adequate protein from your diet.

On the other hand, your health could be significantly impacted by the source of your protein. The following are high-protein foods that might be a part of a balanced diet:

  • Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, beef, and pig 
  • Fish include salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, and anchovies 
  • dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt 
  • Peas, beans, and lentils 
  • Nuts and seeds: peanut, walnut, chia, sunflower, and so forth. Nut butters also fit the bill. 
  • Eggs 
  • One entire grain that may be consumed is quinoa.
  • Soy-based products like tempeh and tofu

When choosing from that list, it’s important to consider your own tastes as well as what you could be getting in addition to all that protein. The best solutions for you will depend on your goals and health needs. As an example:

If you want to limit your consumption of saturated fat, lean meat cuts are a preferable choice.

Reduce your consumption of salt by avoiding processed meats like hot dogs and sausage.

To enhance your consumption of omega-3s, you might choose walnuts, salmon, tuna, or eggs supplemented with omega-3s.

If you want to boost your fiber intake, look for beans, nuts, legumes, and high-protein vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

To lower your risk of heart disease, eat more fish, chicken, and legumes and less red meat—especially processed red meat.

If you’re attempting to keep an eye on your weight, consider including protein with each meal. It will make you feel fuller for longer. 

If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or eat mostly plant-based meals, make sure you receive your protein from a variety of plant sources to make sure you are receiving all the amino acids you need. You may mix fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds in a variety of ways. Vegans, who refuse to eat any animal products, could not obtain enough of a certain amino acid if their diet isn’t sufficiently varied. Extras aid in bridging the divide. However, the majority of vegans don’t appear to need them, according the report.

In conclusion

Protein is a vital part of every well-balanced diet. Although most of us get enough, some people may need extra if they are very active, over 65, still growing, pregnant, or nursing. Select a variety of meals rich in protein to get the most health benefits.