18 Things You Didn’t Know About Protein

Protein is an important part of our daily diets, and while meat is the most common source of the compound, it can also be found in soy, eggs, fish and nuts. This organic compound is a molecule that is broken down in the body into amino acids, which are required by the body to allow it to build muscles, hair and nails.

When we think protein, that’s basically what we think about – hair and muscle production. There is so much more to the story, though – protein has a huge effect on our bodies, and there are plenty of things to learn. Let’s take a look at some things you probably didn’t know about protein – and in the process, you’ll probably discover new ways to improve your diet!

1. Meat can be a better source of protein, but it isn’t necessarily

Vegetarians and vegans obtain protein in their diet through plant sources, but animal proteins are actually easier for our bodies to use. These animal proteins can be used more quickly by the body, given that they are similar to our own proteins – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that meat is always better. If you’re a meat eater, be sure to eat the leanest cuts you can find. Cheaper cuts of meat, or processed meat, will contain unhealthy levels of saturated fat.

Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock.com
Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock.com

2. Protein is super useful

Proteins perform lots of different roles in the body. For instance, the rhodopsin protein helps the eyes see light, whereas the haemoglobin protein in our red blood cells is required to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The haemoglobin also carries away harmful substances, like carbon dioxide, back to the lungs so that we can exhale it.

3. You probably don’t need to eat more protein

Most Americans actually eat more protein than their body really needs, which isn’t difficult given that it should only make up around 15% of your diet (at most!). The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that adult women should consume around 46g of protein per day, and adult men should consume around 56g.

This means that the average American, who consumes 101.9 grams per day (according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), is consuming way too much. If anything, you probably need to cut back!

alexsvirid / Shutterstock.com
alexsvirid / Shutterstock.com

4. If you eat too much protein, you can actually be putting your health in jeopardy

The more protein you eat, the more stress you place on your liver and kidneys. Just like when you drink too much on the weekend, these two organs will have to work overdrive to break down the proteins and dispose of them. You’ll even gain lots of weight, so be sure to balance out your meat consumption with vegetables!

5. Everyone needs different quantities of protein in their diet, and the guidelines are exactly that – guidelines

An athlete, for instance, will always need more protein than a non-athlete, but that quantity will depend on their age, their sex and the amount of exercise they do every day. For instance, a male athlete might need anywhere between 84 and 119g of protein every day, and a female athlete might need anywhere between 66 and 94g every day.

Oleksandra Naumenko / Shutterstock.com
Oleksandra Naumenko / Shutterstock.com
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