With the latest diet crazes cutting out entire food groups and vying for the top spot, a great deal of controversy surrounds the health benefits and effects fats (both healthy and unhealthy) and carbohydrates have on the body. However, most people tend to agree that protein should be an essential part of every diet, no matter if you’re male, female, vegetarian, cardio-lover or weight trainer.
What is protein?
A macronutrient found throughout the body, proteins are necessary for the function and structure of cells. Made up by chains of amino acids, proteins are the building blocks which make up our muscle, bone, skin, hair and more.
Known for their nutritional benefits, protein can make or break your weight loss, or muscle-building goals, however, not all proteins are created equally. With countless different combinations of amino acids, with nine considered essential, different sources of protein offer different levels of nutritional value.
Complete proteins: Foods that contain all the essential amino acids. These mostly occur in animal products, such as meat, dairy, and eggs.
Incomplete proteins: Foods that contain at least one essential amino acid, therefore considered a lack of balance in the proteins. These mostly occur in plant foods, such as peas, beans, and grains.
Complementary proteins: Two or more incomplete proteins, when combined, will provide a complete protein. These foods include yoghurt and muesli or bread with peanut butter.
What are the benefits of protein?
No matter your long or short term fitness or aesthetic goals, consistent and adequate intake of protein will go a long way in keeping you on track and seeing the progress you want.
Increase muscle mass and strength
Eating the right amount of protein, at the right time, is essential when you’re aiming to gain muscle and increase strength. For optimal muscle protein synthesis, you should aim to spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day. It’s also important to take into account your calorie intake, as a whole, and your training program, protein alone isn’t enough.