How to get 120g of protein per day
What are proteins
Protein comes from the Greek word proteuo, which means "I take first place". That's not a wrong description, because we simply couldn't exist without proteins. Colloquially, protein is also called protein.
Food with a lot of protein should be on the menu every day. Basically, proteins are a building material for our body. They are involved in building and maintaining muscle, part of hormones, enzymes and stabilize tissues, organs and the immune system. There are several thousand different proteins in every cell.
From a chemical point of view, proteins contain the three elements C (carbon), O (oxygen) and H (hydrogen) as well as nitrogen (N), which plays an important role in the organism. That is why they are vital in numerous processes that affect the nitrogen content in the body.
The proteins consist of building blocks (which are made up of the chemical elements), the so-called amino acids, of which the body needs 20 but cannot produce eight itself (leucine, tryptophan, threonine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, lysine, phenylalanine). These amino acids are also called "essential". This means that they have to be taken in through protein-rich foods.
The type and amount of amino acids determine the value of the respective protein in the diet. Not all proteins are the same; depending on the source, the proteins are composed of different types and amounts of amino acids.
What does protein do?
Basically there are different places in the body where proteins are used:
- Structural proteins: These proteins give cells their shape and they include collagen, elastin, and keratin.
- Transport proteins: Myoglobin, albumin and hemoglobin are responsible for the transport of oxygen or fat.
- Storage proteins: help the body to store certain substances (e.g. ferritin).
- Contractile proteins: In the form of myosin, they ensure that the muscles can contract, with their help people can move.
- Protective proteins: Components of our immune system, better known as antibodies, humans also need protein (fibriogen) for blood clotting.
In addition, many hormones and enzymes that are involved in various processes in the body belong to the group of proteins.
Every day, proteins are broken down in the organism and their building blocks are excreted. These have to be replaced by food. Dietary proteins provide the body with essential amino acids that it needs to build muscles, organs, cartilage, bones, skin, hair and nails.
Protein normally does not serve to generate energy, the body only uses protein reserves in emergency situations. During a zero diet, for example, a lot of protein-rich muscles are broken down, especially when the muscles are not needed due to a lack of exercise.
A healthy, varied diet that includes both animal foods as well
contains vegetable food, easily covers the protein requirement. Protein from animal sources is easier to use for humans because they are much more similar in structure and type of amino acids. One speaks here of a higher biological “value” because less of it has to be consumed in order to replace the proteins broken down in the organism every day.
However, animal protein also has disadvantages compared to the other possible source of protein (plants). The corresponding foods contain more unhealthy fats, more purines and also potentially contribute more to the cholesterol balance.
The biological “value” of proteins can be increased with a trick: If animal and vegetable proteins are consumed together, the body can use them better. This works well with the following combinations, for example: potatoes with egg, cereals with milk or potatoes with dairy products.
So is the diet with protein Biologically higher quality - with less fat, cholesterol and purines, more complex carbohydrates, digestive fiber and fewer calories.
You can read in the article Vegetable protein which plant-based foods and products contain proteins.
Protein requirement: how much protein per day
Find out how much protein you need per day and what happens in the event of a protein overdose or deficiency in the protein requirement article
Protein: foods with a high content
Read more about protein values in foods in the article Protein-containing foods
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