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Protein Foods in Your Diet

Protein Foods in Your Diet

Protein foods in your diet are important because this is how you provide the amino acids that your body requires.  The amino acids that make up protein are responsible for your overall structure, hormonal balances, our immune system, and for the basic transportation of proteins in your body.  This smallest group of a protein (the amino acids) join together to make up the primary protein structures: peptides and peptide chains.  The protein foods in your diet are broken down and digested into peptides and amino acids.  The protein foods in your diet need to be looked at from a quality level on the total number of amino acids they contain.

The protein foods in your diet will be absorbed in different ways.  After the proteins have left the stomach and have moved into the intestine, some of the amino acids will move through the intestinal cells and be used for your body’s energy needs.   It they are not absorbed for energy needs, then they can be synthesized into new proteins such as hormones, or other proteins your body needs.  After a meal, the proteins in your diet are processed and delivered throughout your body.  The liver is the primary place where this occurs (after a meal).  During this exchange, about 20 grams (out of each 100 grams) are used in the amino acid pool which is located in the bloodstream.  It is from the circulatory system that the amino acid pool is able to distribute protein throughout the body.

Adequate Protein Foods in Your Diet

A net negative protein balance occurs when the daily required amount of amino acids are not ingested.  Of the macronutrients, proteins are hard to maintain and keep up with the daily needs of the amino acid pool without help from a diet that follows good nutrition guidelines.  The other macronutrients (fat and carbohydrates) are maintained fairly easily throughout our body.  A good analogy for the amino acid pool is that it is like trying to keep a bucket that has a hole in it  full of water.  The amino acids that your body need are constantly lost from the amino acid pool and must be replenished by dietary intervention.  If there is a consistent lacking of protein foods in your diet, the proteins that are needed for structure, hormonal balances, etc., will start to be catabolized.  As you can guess, this lack of protein foods is not healthy for your vital organs and other vital functions.

Protein Foods in Your Diet

Amino Acids

Amino acids come in two basic categories: essential and non-essential.  There are 12 non-essential amino acids that your body has the ability to make.  It is the 8 essential amino acids that your body can’t produce and must be supplied by a diet that follows good nutrition.

Complete Protein Foods in Your Diet

As mentioned above, it is the quality of the protein foods in your diet that you eat that is important.  They type of protein foods that you should strive to include in your diet should be complete proteins.  Complete protein foods come from animal sources such as meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk, and cheese; to name a few.  These protein food sources all provide the essential amino acids in the proper amounts. Although animal sources are the main providers of complete proteins, there are some forms from plants that are considered complete proteins.  These protein foods consists of such things as: quinoa, buckwheat, hempseed, to name a few.  Although there are plant alternatives to animal sources for complete proteins, the plant versions fall short on the total protein compared ounce per ounce with the animal sources.  While, in general most plant foods are not considered complete in protein; they can be combined to form complete proteins.

The Final Word on Protein Foods in Your Diet

When considering the protein foods in your diet, you should first consider getting your daily needs from whole foods rather than supplements.  Whole foods will absorb faster and have a high concentration of micronutrients (your vitamins and minerals).  Including complete protein foods in your everyday nutritional plans will help aid in preventing a deficiency in the amino acid pool and help optimize your body’s functioning.  Getting your complete proteins in your diet can come from animal sources , some plant sources, or a combination of the two.

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