All about protein

In the world of sport, we often talk about protein, since it has numerous benefits for athletes. Proteins are an essential part of our cells and can be found in a variety of foods. This is why some athletes eat a special diet in order to increase their protein intake and therefore increase muscle mass.


Proteins: the key to life

Proteins are large molecules that are vital for life since they are your body's only source of nitrogen. They are created using amino acids, small molecules made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. There are about twenty in total. These combine in a variety of ways to make proteins of different shapes and degrees of complexity. It is estimated that about 100 amino acids must come together to form a protein.


Amino acids can form so many different combinations that we have not yet discovered all of the types of proteins that exist. Some proteins, called structural proteins, are the building blocks of all of the organs in our bodies, while others, called functional proteins, are found in antibodies, enzymes, hormones and haemoglobin. The body can also synthesize some amino acids into others. However, the 8 essential amino acids cannot be synthesized. If you have too little or none of one of these, the protein synthesis process is hindered.


All of the cells in our body are made up of proteins, and they are organized in our genetic code in such a way that they differ in every individual, which explains why our bodies often reject organ transplants.


There are two kinds of proteins, protein from animal sources and protein from vegetable sources. Both types are quite important.


The importance of proteins

As we have noted, proteins play a key role in our bodies. They are responsible for constructing and repairing some organs. Every day, they revitalize our skin, hair and muscle tissue. They also help to reinforce our defences against external aggression.


When you do intense physical activity, they are even more vital, since they promote the growth of muscle mass. In fact, muscles are created from amino acids, which the body uses to repair damaged muscle tissue. This is why eating protein is so important for bodybuilders. In general, physical activity requires higher protein intake, just like pregnancy and breast feeding.


What should I eat?

The proteins in our bodies are constantly renewed, since they are produced from the foods we ingest. During digestion, proteins in food are split into amino acids so the body can use them to build its own proteins. Therefore, we recommend consuming foods that are high in protein during your three daily meals.


Obviously, every person's protein needs vary depending on their weight, age and muscles . In general, adult males need between 65 and 70 g of protein per day and adult females need between 54 and 66 g per day. Protein intake should make up about 12 to 15% of total caloric intake. If you do intense bodybuilding, you should consume 200 to 300 g of protein per day!


Animal proteins contain all of the essential amino acids, which are sometimes lacking in vegetable proteins. Animal proteins are found in:

  • meat and fish (15-24%)
  • cheese (15-30%)
  • eggs (13%)
  • dairy products (5-8%)
  • milk (3.5%)
  • Vegetable proteins are found in:
  • bread (7%)
  • grains, starches, and legumes such as soy, lentils and dried beans, etc. (2-5%)


A lack of protein is relatively uncommon, but can cause weakness, muscle wasting and decrease your resistance to illnesses. Too much protein is a more frequent problem, and can increase waste in your body (urea, uric acid, etc.), making it difficult for your kidneys to eliminate all of the protein you eat and therefore increasing the amount of protein in your blood.