Everyone knows that we need proteins to maintain and grow muscle, but few people know what a protein really is and what it’s made of. There are many different types of proteins, responsible for a vast array of bodily function including DNA replication, providing structure to our cells, and transporting molecules from one cell to another. In short, we need protein for much more than building muscles, it’s very important to fuel your body with all of the protein that it needs!
Proteins are large molecules consisting of one or more chains of amino acids. This is why it’s important to have a healthy supply of amino acids in our diets as well. Our body naturally produces most amino acids on it’s own, but there are 9 types amino acids called Essential Amino acids that we can only get from our food. The 9 essential amino acids are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine.
Some great sources of essential amino acids are beans, peas, nuts, legumes, dark leafy greens, berries, bananas, avocados, and chia seeds. There are tons of awesome foods with essential amino acids, but it’s always a good idea to take an amino acid supplement if you are working out and putting your body under additional stress and an elevated protein demand.
So remember, we need protein for much more than our muscles! Proteins are responsible for a vast amount of our functions beyond muscle health, your hair, skin and nail health all rely on protein too. Make sure you are consuming healthy proteins to keep your body happy, as well as a diverse diet to ensure you are getting all the essential amino acids that your body uses to synthesize protein! Some of our favorite protein sources are lentils, peas, beans, nuts, sprouted breads, quinoa, chickpea. Find what proteins make your body feel best and go eat em!