Question: Am I getting enough protein? Answer: Probably not.

Protein is needed for many reasons and used in the body in many ways.

If you follow nutrition news very closely you probably have heard the general consensus that Americans consume much more protein than they need each day. Also a common question from readers is “am I getting enough protein?” Clearly there are mixed signals being sent that ought to be cleared up.

The problem as stated is that if excess protein is not converted into muscle, (via exercise) it is instead converted into fat and stored. And yes the fat does get stored in those special places on our bodies that some have lovingly given names too.

Very recently, an article by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that although the current recommendation of 0.8 grams/kg per day will keep the average person from developing a protein deficiency, it may not be enough to equip the body with enough protein to support all its various functions.

The key here is that not all proteins are the same quality and there are some that are very nutritious and others that merely pack on the pounds if over indulged upon. Find a high-quality protein source and you will be golden. And by the way, that big bucket of KFC doesn’t count as high-quality protein.

There are an incredible amount of functions that proteins carry out in our metabolic system.

Here are 4 major ones:

1. Structural Strength.

Okay this one is obvious but it’s what protein is so famous for. Every time you move, you are utilizing your protein stores via your muscular system. Proteins, or amino acids rather, are literally the building blocks that allow the food we consume to be stored as muscle.

2. Enzymes

We have already discussed enzymes in a previous post but enzymes are simply small proteins that do an amazing job of speeding up metabolic reactions.

3. Hormones

Besides making teenagers feel uncomfortable, hormones serve vital metabolic purposes ranging from glucose modulation (insulin) to make us feel sleepy. (tryptophan/serotonin)

4. Antibodies

That’s right, every time you get over a cold or the flu, you can thank circulating antibodies, for making you feel better. On the flip side, every time you break down with a sneezing fit and watery eyes due to a freshly mowed lawn, you can blame proteins (antibodies) for this one.

The major point to take away is that protein is more than just a muscle builder. It doesn’t just make you look good (or wimpy) at the gym;  it is vital to our health.

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