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  • Courtney Marie

Protein - Not Just for Building Muscles


Protein is "THE" building block in the body. It consists of up to 50,000 protein compounds with vital functions. From muscles, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, internal organs to hormones and enzymes – proteins are needed everywhere. Vital protein compounds are also needed for many biologically active substances, which provide for example for the transport of iron or oxygen in the blood, for the immune system or bone metabolism. Protein makes up the largest proportion of human body mass in adults, at about 10 kg (about 22 lbs). The dry weight of many body cells consists of more than 50% protein.


Although protein is one of the energy-providing macronutrients along with fats and carbohydrates, it occupies a special position because it is never primarily stored in the body as energy. Unlike fats, which are stored in adipose tissue, and carbohydrates, which are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle, proteins always have a specific function.


That is why protein is also an indispensable part of our nutrition. Whether vegetable or animal protein - in the stomach and intestines, the digestive juices break down the food protein into its smallest components, the amino acids.

To keep all vital processes running, amino acids must be available in sufficient quantities at all times. This is because thousands of repair processes take place in every cell every day, during which complex proteins are broken down into their individual components and are renewed.


How much protein is required?

If protein is lacking, it quickly becomes noticeable. Nails, hair and skin suffer, they become brittle, dull and wrinkled. Physical strength is also diminishing. We get tired quickly and are often exhausted for no reason.


How much protein is healthy for the individual cannot be answered in general terms. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) as well as the WHO recommend eating at least 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight daily (0.36 grams per lbs).


A "high-protein" diet is considered to be, when 30 percent of food energy is absorbed in the form of protein. According to scientific studies, a diet rich in proteins can prevent some diseases. For example, studies have concluded that high-protein food can improve the metabolic condition of type 2 diabetes mellitus, lower liver fat, reduce inflammatory processes and improve the overall lipid profile in the blood.


Although we actually consume plenty of protein-rich foods, the positive effect is lost. Scientific research brings it to light: it is primarily due to the combination of “a lot of protein paired with unhealthy nutrients.". Our nutrition usually looks like this: lots of meat and sausages with plenty of additives. We neglect vegetables and fruits and absorb too little fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids. This increases the risk of lipometabolic disorders, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, despite a high-protein diet.


Protein quality - Biological Value

In addition to the appropriate protein intake, the quality of the protein is particularly important. The quality of the protein is defined by the eight essential amino acids. The dietary proteins have a different composition and the quality of the dietary proteins is calculated on the basis of the limiting essential amino acid in each case. In this case, it is not the highest possible protein content of the food that is decisive for the quality of the protein, but how much of this protein content can be converted into the body’s own protein.