Protein: Our Building Block!

by Cathy Clements, Nutritionist & Life Coach, NASM CNC, CPT, FNS, WFS

Protein is one of the three macronutrients our bodies use. Proteins serve many functions in cells. They act as enzymes that catalyze chemical reactions, provide structural support, regulate the passage of substances across the cell membrane and protect against disease.

As you decide how you are going to eat, here are a few things to think about.

Proteins break down to amino acids in our digestion. There are nine of these amino acids we cannot make, so we need to ingest them: lysine, histidine, threonine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, isoleucine, leucine, valine and methionine.

Essential amino acids must be consumed in the diet because they are necessary for bodily functions.

Obtaining adequate protein in the diet is essential for athletes and non-athletes alike.

For non-athletes, protein is required for various health functions. For active exercisers and athletes, additional protein intake is required for the repair and recovery of muscle tissue, as well. Depending on the goals of the active individual, they may need more protein in their diet than the average sedentary person.

When trying to lose weight, we don’t want to lose muscle mass, which helps with our metabolism, posture and balance. Most people think depleting their diet to a very low calorie intake is the best way to lose weight. Most of us just need to cut those food items that don’t serve us. Eating enough protein and fats is more important than carbohydrates to help fuel us. 

As you digest that information, a common balance ratio for intake of all the macros is 40/30/30 — carbohydrates/protein/fats.

An easy way to figure out how many calories you need is to take your body weight and multiple it by 11. If you want to lose weight, subtract 400 from that number. Then determine how much protein, fat and carbohydrates to take in. Having a conversation with your doctor is a good thing.

Protein is an important building block. Make sure you are getting enough!