by Collin Stark September 02, 2022 5 min read
Thinking back to when I first began my fitness journey, or even prior to that, I remember what I thought protein was...
To me, protein was just meat and protein powders that were used by bodybuilders to get jacked.
Fortunately, through proper education, I learned that protein is so much more than that...
In fact, it's a key component in our ability to not only see results in the gym, but also live a healthier life overall.
You may still have the same misconceptions I had, and that is okay.
That's why I wanted to write this blog and explain:
• What protein is
• What protein is made of
• The function of protein
...and other information about protein
Proteins are large and complex molecules. They are composed of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called “amino acids.”
Amino Acids are also known as the building blocks of cells ... you may remember this from science class growing up. These units are chained together by peptide bonds to form bigger molecules like proteins.
There are a total of 20 different amino acids. Each protein chain has its own function based on the sequence of these amino acids inside the chain.
I like to think of these amino acids as if they are fruit loops. If we took different colors of these fruit loops and put them together in a sequence ... we'd make up a protein chain.
This is just for a visual representation ... you can't actually put fruit loops together and make protein. Although, there are fruit loop-flavored protein powders!
But let's get back to the subject of these amino acids...
Something else that is important to note is there are 9 essential amino acids. They are essential because our bodies cannot make them, and we have to get them through the foods we eat.
A “complete protein” contains all 9 of these essential amino acids. "Incomplete proteins" are missing one or more of these 9 essential amino acids. This is crucial for a few reasons, which we will get into more in a bit.
Let's take it back to the beginning and the most common misconception about protein. Yes, protein is very important in the muscle building process (but not necessarily in the way you think).
See, protein also does SO much more than that, which I am excited for you to learn about.
Starting with the muscle side of things, some of you may have thought, “I do not want to get big and bulky.” Not to pick on the women out there, but that is typically who I hear saying this the most.
The good thing is, you will not have that issue at all just from protein intake. See, protein helps maintain and build LEAN muscle tissue.
Think of this as being "toned", "lean", "athletic", or "fit." That is what protein is going to do for you ... not make you overly-muscular or “manly.”
Men are much more likely to bulk up because of some hormonal and genetic differences.
Even with that though, men still have to eat a lot of calories and train in a very specific way to get "bulky" in the first place.
I promise that it's not as simple as picking up a dumbbell, eating some protein, and waking up big, bulky, and jacked.
Remember, the amino acids that make up protein are the same amino acids that act as the building blocks for all cells.
Also keep in mind that our entire body is made up of cells. So the benefits of protein go way beyond muscle tissue.
Our body is constantly building and breaking down each day. The goal is to provide our body with enough protein to support the repair and growth of new tissue.
This can be everything from our hair, skin, and nails, as well as the lining of our intestines and organs.
Enzymes are necessary for so many functions inside and outside of the cell. For example, digestive enzymes help to break down your food. Other enzymes play a role in metabolism, energy production, muscle contraction, and more.
Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers. They travel and bind to tissues/organs. Basically, hormones communicate and take messages through the body.
Some examples are insulin, HGH, Glucagon, ADH, and more. They are all vital to our body's health.
Antibodies are actually proteins that circulate through our blood to help fight off viruses and bacteria.
So, if we are lacking in protein, this could affect our body's ability to respond to attackers.
There are proteins that help support certain functions. Hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen through the bloodstream, is a good example of this.
Now you know what protein is, and how it can help. Where do you find it though?
Animal-based protein sources are going to be the best sources available.
• Some Dairy
Animal protein sources contain all 9 essential amino acids, making them complete protein sources.
There are also plant-based options that have decent amino acid profiles.
But, like I discussed above, there are complete and incomplete protein sources. Plant-based protein sources are all incomplete, meaning they don't have all 9 essential amino acids.
That's why, if you prefer to eat plant-based protein sources, I recommend combining plant-based protein sources to make a complete protein source.
For example, when you combine the amino acids in beans and rice ... you get a complete protein source!
So, even though beans and rice by themselves do not have all 9 essential amino acids ... beans and rice together do.
Some other complimentary protein sources include:
• Peanut butter and whole grain bread
• Macaroni and cheese
• Hummus with pita bread
...and so much more.
Protein is the most difficult macro to consume enough of for the majority of people. Let's be real ... carbs and fats are easy to find.
Although this is exactly why I've used a sustained assimilation protein supplement for almost 10 years now.
Every single day, it is not only helping me reach my protein goal ... but also helping me satisfy my sweet tooth. Plus, the convenience of being able to throw a scoop or two in water and shake it up on the go is a lifesaver!
Sustained assimilation proteins are protein powders designed to use as a meal or snack. They digest slower and keep you fuller for longer than a rapid assimilation protein supplement.
Since I'm always struggling to get enough protein throughout the day ... I use Level-1 to make it easier.
I hope you now have a great understanding of what protein is, what it does, and how beneficial it can be.
At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering how much protein you need to get all of its benefits.
Well, my friend ... that’s why we made the 1st Phorm App.
There is a Certified Trainer and Nutrition Coach waiting for you inside the app who will help give you the personalized help you need to get enough protein to reach your goals and see amazing results.
Start pursuing your health and fitness goals by downloading the 1st Phorm App today!
NASM Certified Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist NASM Certified Nutrition Coach