What are proteins
Proteins are the structural basis with which our body is built and are the matter of which many hormones are made that regulate the body’s functions.
Biochemically they are amino acid chains. Muscles, bones, connective tissue, elastin in the skin are all examples of protein structures present in our body.
But proteins, together with fats and carbohydrates, are also one of the macronutrients that make up our diet.
What role they play and why they are important
Food proteins are fundamental for our health because thanks to their introduction we can supply the body with the amino acids necessary to build and repair endogenous protein structures, i.e. the proteins present in our body.
For example, although a well-balanced physical effort is healthy, the mechanism that allows the adaptation of the muscle passes through its initial damage.
Only if, through nutrition, we supply the muscles with the proteins necessary to repair themselves, will the muscle respond positively and grow.
In addition, proteins play a fundamental role in satiety as their ability to satiate us is significantly higher than fats and carbohydrates.
Finally, protein foods are essential for maintaining the basal metabolic rate.
In fact, for 100 kilocalories of protein food, 25 are consumed only to metabolize it thus creating an advantage over fats and carbohydrates.
Therefore, given that every macronutrient is fundamental, excessively reducing or eliminating proteins from one’s diet would certainly be a mistake.
What are the most protein foods? Not just meat …
Protein is contained in both animal and plant-based foods, particularly in legumes and pseudo-cereals such as quinoa.
However, there is a fundamental difference which is the biological value, i.e. the measure of the proportion of proteins absorbed by the food and incorporated into the body’s endogenous proteins.
In the case of foods of vegetable origin, this value is clearly reduced due to the lack of specific amino acids.
In a balanced diet, it is, therefore, necessary to insert both vegetable and animal proteins, choosing for the latter the healthier versions such as fish, lean meats, eggs compared to fatty meats and cheeses.
In the overall calculation of the protein intake, it should be borne in mind that cereals or pseudocereals also contain proteins but always with a rather reduced biological value.
Considering the one-dish approach proposed by Harvard, each main meal should contain a protein intake. The ideal division includes 50% of vegetables, 25% of whole grains, and 25% of proteins.
Protein after training, when to take it
As previously written, proteins are essential to allow muscles to repair themselves after exertion.
However, there is a time period of 30-45 minutes after a workout in which it is important to quickly get nourishment and proteins to the muscles in order to start the anabolic response i.e. the regeneration and growth of the damaged muscle.
The proteins contained in food have a too slow absorption which makes their use impossible in this context.
For this reason, specific protein supplements are used in athletes that allow rapid protein absorption and therefore better muscle recovery. We are talking about protein powders.