Without protein in your diet, you’d die.
The name ‘protein’ comes from ‘protos’, the Greek word for ‘first’, and with good reason because every single inner and outer cell membrane in your body is made from it.
It’s involved in the functioning of all your body’s systems – and of course if you want to bulk up, a good supply of protein is essential.
Protein molecules are like long chains – each link in the chain is an amino acid. There are 20 in total, of which eight are considered essential. Essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are crucial for synthesising protein in your body.
Protein for life
Work out, take on sufficient protein and your musculature will develop the way you want it to. But protein is about more than looking great.
Hair is made out of a protein called keratin. The same goes for the outer layers of your skin.
Bones are hardened with calcium and other minerals but without flex, they’d be brittle and prone to breaking. Protein gives your bones a rubbery internal structure, and the marrow in the middle – that’s protein too.
Hemoglobin is made from protein which is good because it’s the stuff that carries oxygen around your body. And plasma, the clear straw coloured fluid component of blood is also partly made of protein, and that’s important for lots of reasons, not least because it transports antibodies, enzymes and lipids to where they’re needed.
Nerve cells work like a daisy chain, by passing information from one to the next. To do this they need neurotransmitters which are – yes you guessed it – made from protein.
Enzymes are proteins that perform a host of functions from digesting food to building new cells – you couldn’t do without them.
Biological Value (BV)
Not all proteins are equal. The measure of how well your body is able to use proteins contained within a particular food type its biological value. The index compares each food source to egg protein which is given a BV of 100. The higher the BV the better the body is able to use the protein in the food to build lean muscle mass. Whey protein ranks right at the top.
Checkout the table below for the BV of popular sources of dietary protein:
Your protein needs depend on your activity levels. A sedentary office worker won’t need nearly as much as someone who has a very physical job, or works out at the gym six days a week. The benchmark for the average woman is 46g per day, for the average man it’s 56g – that’s equivalent to three or four beef burgers. But if you work out, you’ll need more. A power athlete in a bulking phase will be looking at between 1.5 and 2g protein per kg of body weight.