Categories: Nutrition3.1 min read

by Stephen Luther, M.D.


Protein’s Power to Renovate Life

Imagine your body as a bustling construction site; it uses cells, the building blocks of life, to constantly remodel by repairing and building new structures. Every cell needs protein, the sturdy macromolecule your body uses to engineer and implement all functional systems. These sophisticated and complex protein molecules contain smaller, unique chains created from 20 types of amino acids.

Renovate and upgrade your quality of life by understanding protein’s power to impact nearly all body functions, including immunity, hormone regulation, membrane/oxygen transport, building muscle, and functional enzymes.

Are you consuming the right amount and type of protein at the ideal time? Can you recognize the warning signs of protein deficiency? 

Protein’s Essential Functions

  • Immune function: Certain proteins, such as antibodies, help defend the body against infections and diseases to maintain a strong and resilient immune system.
  • Membrane/oxygen transport: The amino acid globin helps create hemoglobin which is responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood.
  • Enzyme production: Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in the body, benefiting processes such as digestion and metabolism.
  • Muscle maintenance and growth: Protein acts as the contractile pieces of muscle cells, which allow movement. Therefore, protein is crucial in repairing and building muscle tissue to gain strength and endurance at all fitness levels.
  • Hormone production and regulation: Hormones that control various bodily functions such as metabolism, growth, and mood require protein to function correctly.

Ideal Forms of Protein

The most complete proteins contain nine essential amino acids, meaning your body cannot synthesize them, making it essential to consume them daily. Of the 20 amino acids in a protein, the nine amino acids – histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine – are indispensable nutrients.

All animal protein is considered complete, and some excellent sources of these include:

  • meats such as beef, chicken, turkey, and pork;
  • seafood such as salmon, tuna, trout, shrimp;
  • eggs;
  • dairy products such as whole milk, whey, Greek yogurt, and cheeses (not processed); and
  • certain produce such as soy, quinoa, and buckwheat.

Not all protein is created equal; incomplete proteins are found in legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and some grains may lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids.

Symbios recommends diverse meals, including multiple sources of produce, which will help balance ratios and ensure adequate consumption of all amino acids.

Why You Need Protein

Insufficient protein intake may cause detrimental health consequences, including:

  • a breaking down of muscle tissue to meet your body’s protein need that leads to muscle wasting and weakness;
  • an impaired immune function that results in greater susceptibility to infections and illnesses;
  • slow wound healing; and
  • poor production of essential hormones and enzymes.

Timing Your Protein Intake

Synchronizing your protein intake with your body’s demands can help with weight management and application. 

  • Eating protein-rich foods instead of carbs throughout the day helps put every calorie to use and gives you slow and steady energy. “Protein helps curb your appetite by reducing levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin while increasing levels of appetite-reducing hormones like glucagon,” according to Healthline.
  • Consuming protein within two hours post-exercise repairs and rebuilds your muscles, providing essential amino acids for muscle recovery and growth. It also replenishes and prevents muscle breakdown, promoting faster recovery and improved performance for your next workout.

Calculating your ideal amount of protein depends on various factors such as age, sex, weight, and activity level. Harvard Health advises the average adult to eat a minimum of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. However, athletes, pregnant women, and those recovering from illness require significantly more.

Protein’s nutritional benefits are part of your foundation for good health. Protein is derived from the Greek word protos, meaning first, which is a reminder to make protein a primary part of your nutritious diet.


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