The benefits of dietary proteins have been discussed for over a century in the world of nutrition and it’s well known that proteins as part of a balanced diet are vital for our body functions and growth. Proteins contribute to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass and are needed for the normal growth and development of bone in children. But what exactly is protein, where can it be found and does it matter which type of protein you eat?
The make-up of protein
First of all, to understand what makes protein such a valuable nutrient, it’s necessary to look at its components. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids. These are what makes protein so high in nutritional value. Thanks to these building blocks, protein is the fundamental component for the healthy functioning of our cells and organs (Institute of Medicine, 2002/2005) and it is involved in numerous processes in the body, such as muscle function, growth and repair.
Did you know?
|Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. They must be provided from food.|
There are hundreds of amino acids that are found naturally. However, for humans some twenty different types of amino acids form the basis of all proteins in your body. Nine of these amino acids can only be obtained through diet. These are commonly referred to as the essential amino acids (often abbreviated EAA).
Did you know?
|Throughout the day, a constant turnover of protein is taking place in the body, where protein is broken down and synthesised. The muscles in the human body account for up to 50% of the entire protein turnover.|
Dietary protein quality
Different food sources contain different amounts and combinations of protein and amino acids. Along with fats and carbohydrates, proteins are one of the macronutrient food groups we need in large amounts in our diet. But unlike fat or carbohydrates the body does not store excess protein so you need to eat protein regularly to make sure you get enough to keep your body healthy and well-functioning.
The diagram above compares whey and plant-based protein sources in terms of dietary protein quality. The two scores measure the protein against the amino acids needed by the human body – Proteins with a score of 1 match daily recommended requirements of essential amino acids. Proteins with a score below 1 do not match daily recommended requirements of essential amino acids.
On www.wheyforliving.com we refer to proteins with the DIAAS score 1 or above as complete proteins.
What’s the right amount of protein each day?
|Daily protein needs range between 0.8 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight depending on your age, health status and lifestyle.|
By eating a varied diet which provides a combination of different protein-rich food items, most of us find it easy to meet our protein and amino acids requirements. However, if you don’t eat a varied diet or just want a quick and easy way to increase your dietary protein supply without having to consider how to combine different protein sources, dairy-based proteins, such as whey, can offer a source of high nutritional quality.
Did you know?
|After water, protein is the most plentiful substance in the body.|
Calculate your protein requirements
Now we’ve looked at the different sources of protein and their nutritional profiles, the next question is how much protein should you consume in your diet? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question as it depends on your age, lifestyle and overall health.
In general, growing children who are physically active and pregnant and breastfeeding women need higher levels of dietary protein than sedentary adults. To see how much protein you should be consuming on a daily basis in your diet, use the online calculator on the link below. Enter your age, weight, height and activity level and it will give you an estimate of the amount of protein you need in your diet to remain healthy.
 On www.wheyforliving.com we refer to proteins with the DIAAS score 1 or above as complete proteins