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Why Do We Need Protein?

posted on July 26, 2023

Proteins are large, complex molecules that play several critical roles in the body. They do most of the work within our cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Some call them the “building blocks of life.”


When it comes to protein, there are complete (essential) and incomplete (nonessential) proteins. There are 9 essential amino acids that the body can’t produce by itself. To get these amino acids, we must consume foods that contain all of them, making them complete proteins. Those foods that do not contain one of more of those 9 essential amino acids are considered incomplete proteins. We should strive to receive a majority of our daily protein from whole food sources, but otherwise you can supplement with a good ole reliable protein powder.


The standard Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein = 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. To show a quick example, I weigh about 77kg. So, for me: 77kg * 0.8g = roughly 62 grams/day. However, needs will vary depending on activity level and health status. Moderately active individuals may need closer to 1g per kg of body weight. Those who are more intensely active may need more than 1g per kg of body weight, so it all depends.


Most of us know and associate protein with building muscle. While this is certainly a key reason as to why we need it, there are several other reasons why we need protein to maintain good health:


  • Supports a healthy immune system
    • The amino acids help turn our antibodies and other T/B cells into “germ fighters” that spot and kill harmful cells that enter your body before they can start an infection.


  • Builds and maintains muscle
    • Muscle stress caused by exercise will damage the protein filaments in our muscles. As a result, our daily protein intake will help to rebuild those filaments and help the muscles stay functional.


  • Can help with weight management
    • Protein takes longer to digest than other types of nutrients, so it can increase satiety and satisfy our hunger for longer periods of time.


  • Supports the growth, development, and repair of cells


There are many different food sources out there for you to get your daily complete and incomplete proteins in. Some of my favorites include beef, pork, eggs, and poultry for my complete proteins and nuts, beans, rice, and vegetables for my incomplete proteins. What are your favorites?




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