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Fran Lewthwaite - 26.02.21
What better way to celebrate National Protein day than by providing some more information around the much discussed macronutrient.
At a basic level protein is a macronutrient (nutrients we need in larger quantities that provide us with energy). Protein is essential for health, development and growth – did you know that the word ‘protein’ is Greek for ‘prime importance’? It’s been used by athletes for generations, but it’s not until more recently that its importance for the wider population has been realised.
Protein from the food that we are eat is broken down into smaller molecules in the stomach by a digestive enzyme called pepsin, and then further broken down in the gut to make amino acids. Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of protein. Protein is fundamental for many of the physiological processes in our body. Whilst protein is not our bodies first energy choice, it is the functionality of protein that sets it apart from other nutrients. The body’s protein exists in a dynamic state, meaning that they are continually being renewed and replaced through the process called protein synthesis to aid growth and repair.
Providing you are not eating more calories than you burn you will not become bulky or gain body fat. Some people worry that high protein intakes will make them fat, but it can have the opposite effect!
Protein serves as an appetite suppressant due to slower gastric emptying rate leading to a reduced blood glucose response compared to carbohydrates. Protein, also has a greater thermogenic effect than the other macronutrients, known as dietary induced thermogenesis (DIT). This means that by eating protein the body temperature increases and thus speeds up the metabolism. Also, the higher the percentage of muscle the higher your metabolism – further burning more calories at rest.
Having said that protein cannot be consumed without limit. Protein and amino acids consumed in excess will converted into glucose. Therefore, if high levels are consumed regularly and are not utilised it will be stored as body fat..
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