What is Protein? Long chains of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. During digestion, the hydrochloric acid in your stomach breaks them down into smaller polypeptide chains which is necessary for the synthesis of essential amino acids.
Wait, I thought we were talking about protein, what's the deal with these essential amino acids?
In order for the human body to maintain a balance of protein-energy, a specific ratio of phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine. The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score evalulates protein sources contingent on their amino acid complex scoring them on their completeness.
What are sources of protein? Are they all about the same? Complete proteins can be found in most animal proteins but don't let carnivores bully you into thinking that the only way! Legumes and seeds such as chick peas, black beans, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and pistachios all have high PDCAA Scores. Fascinating enough, through the ages humans have paired different foods together to create a complete protein! In LATAM black beans and rice, Indian dal and roti, Cajun red beans and Japanese soybeans and rice. As humans developed farming and grew their wealth they started adding animal protein but there is no reason to keep to the basics!
How much (range) does a person need? Per usual we are all different! Certain fitness advocates may need more protein to build muscle, but an average woman needs only 40g of protein a day. If you aren't getting that don't worry. Protein deficiency (Kwashiorkor ) is extreely rare in developed nations.
Why is it the new "It" thing? Trendy trendy! Protein and carbohydrates are both 4 calories/gram which is lower than fat at 9 calories/gram. Carbohydrates are been demonized recently because many Americans aren't eating complex carbs (carb section coming soon!) and carbs are linked to weight gain. However protein is tied to muscle gain and fitness so more food products are coming out with increased protein.
Do I really need protein right after working out? Yes the bro-science is in fact true! The American Dietetic Association has overwhelming research stating eating protein and carbs immediately after a work out helps regenerate muscle. Now before you reach for the whey protein or fancy shakes. Get this--you can also just reach for some nostalgic chocolate milk (of the cow or plant variety!). It has the perfect balance of fat, protein and carbs to regenerate your muscles and glycogen (energy) stores! Or you can take my anti milk route and nom on a cheese stick and baby carrots.
All in all, protein is a vital part of nutrition and there are so many different ways to implement it in your day to day. Find what works best for your dietary needs and your body and stick to it! You'll feel the difference in energy and strength once you do!
Article by: Lex Minniti and Marisa Sweeny