Table of contents
1 What are proteins?
What functions do proteins perform in the body? Essential and non-essential amino acids
2 Protein-containing foods
3 Are all proteins the same?
4 How much protein does the body need per day?
5 The timing of protein intake: when does it work best?
For muscle building - sufficient protein is most important Against muscle loss - the same amount of protein with every meal
6 What happens to the body with a protein deficiency?
7 Proteins and sport
8 Conclusion

"How much protein does the body need and is there such a thing as too much?". If you want to eat healthily, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the flood of different opinions, because no other nutrient is surrounded by as many myths as protein.

We unravel the mysteries and provide you with specific recommendations for action.

What are proteins?

Protein is a macronutrient that provides the body with energy, around 4 kcal per gram. However, in addition to their function as a source of energy, they also have other functions. The best known is their involvement in the formation of new cells.

The name protein is derived from the Greek proteios, which means fundamental. The assumption behind the name was that the basis of all proteins is the same substance. Although this is a misconception, it is not entirely wrong.

Proteins have common basic building blocks, the amino acids. A total of 20 amino acids are relevant for humans, with which all protein compounds in the body can be synthesized. They are divided into essential and non-essential. The former must be supplied to the body from outside1

What functions do proteins perform in the body?

Proteins appear in the body in various forms and fulfill numerous vital functions. These include, among others:

Cell building and repair

Proteins are fundamental building blocks in cell formation and maintenance. Required proteins and amino acids are regularly recycled by the body and used where they are needed. There is an increased need, for example, during pregnancy, illness, after an operation or during competitive sport.23

Initiation of reactions in the form of enzymes

Almost all enzymes in the body are proteins, e.g. lactase, which is responsible for the digestion of lactose. Enzymes act as catalysts and thereby reduce the activation energy required for biochemical processes4 Enzyme names are usually descriptive of function and contain the suffix -ase.

Communication by means of messenger substances in the form of hormones

Some hormones, such as insulin or glucagon, are based on proteins. The task of hormones is to transmit information as messenger substances and trigger certain bodily functions. For example, insulin signals that glucose should be absorbed from the blood into the cells.5

Scaffolds in tissues and cells as structural proteins

Looking at the structure of proteins, some are flexible, while others are quite rigid. Rigid structural proteins, such as keratin and collagen, ensure that body parts such as nails, bones or hair are stable.6 Elastin, on the other hand, provides the necessary elasticity for tissues such as the lungs or arteries.

pH regulation

Maintaining the pH value in various parts of the body at a certain level is necessary for our survival. There are buffer systems for this. One of these is hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color. It binds small amounts of acid and thus keeps the pH value in balance.7

Regulation of the fluid balance

The human body consists of about 70 percent water, so it is important that it is properly distributed. Proteins such as albumin and globulin help by maintaining osmotic pressure, among other things.8 If too little protein is eaten, these substances are produced less and the balance is disturbed.

Strengthening the immune system in the form of antibodies

Proteins also occur in the body as antibodies9 They act as bouncers and ensure that no uninvited guests such as viruses and bacteria enter the body. If they do enter, they are marked by the antibodies and phagocytes take over to eliminate them.

Nutrient transport and storage

Another function of proteins in the body is nutrient transport.10 Hemoglobin, for example, which is also responsible for pH regulation, is responsible for the transport of oxygen in the body. There are also proteins such as ferritin, which is necessary for the storage of iron in the cells.11

Energy supplier

Last but not least, proteins serve as a source of energy for the body. However, the body prefers to process fats and carbohydrates, which are metabolized more quickly and for which stores exist.12 Once these are used up, the skeletal muscles are broken down to produce energy.13

Essential and non-essential amino acids

Relevant for the human body are 20 amino acids, which are divided into essential and non-essential. In more recent publications, there is also talk of dispensable and indispensable amino acids.

There are 11 dispensable or non-essential amino acids, which can be produced by the body itself under normal conditions. These include: Alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.

On the other hand, there are the indispensable or essential amino acids. If they are not supplied to the body in sufficient quantities, deficiency symptoms can occur and body functions can be restricted. They are phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine and histidine.

Note to nerds and those who want to impress their fitness friends: A mnemonic for remembering the amino acids is the PheTTVILLM (fat film). This does not include histidine, as it is only essential in infants14

Protein-containing foods

To make your diet protein-rich, you should know how much protein is contained in food. Only foods in which at least 12% of the calories come from protein can be described as protein sources.

High protein content is only reserved for foods with a protein content of at least 20% of calories.15 You can rely on these two terms when shopping.

The following nutritional values come from Cronometer and the Nutrition Coordinating Center Food & Nutrient Database. In the calculation, 1 g of protein corresponds to 4.1 kcal.

Foodstuffs Protein content / 100 g Calories from protein
Egg, boiled 12,6 g 33 %
Chicken, cooked 30,5 g 83 %
Whole milk 3,2 g 22 %
Gouda 24,9 g 29 %
Walnuts 15,2 g 10 %
Tofu, hard 13,3 g 49 %
Lentils, cooked 9,0 g 32 %
Spinach, cooked 3,0 g 53 %
Zucchini, cooked 1,1 g 30 %
Chickpeas, cooked 8,9 g 22 %
Saturo Drink 25,0 g 21 %
Saturo Balanced Powder 30 g 25 %

Are all proteins the same?

Soy, whey, chickpeas, nuts, meat, eggs, kale, hemp. They all have protein in them, but are the proteins they contain all the same? In short: no. Not all types of protein are processed by the body in the same way or provide the same amino acids.

It is often stated that plant proteins do not have a complete amino acid profile, whereas animal proteins, such as whey protein, do. A combination of rice with beans, for example, is therefore recommended to balance out imbalances.

Some (plant-based) foods contain less of certain amino acids than others. However, when examining the nutrient content of different foods, it is noticeable that both plant and animal foods have a complete amino acid profile.1617

There is therefore no absolute necessity to combine plant-based foods - a balanced and varied diet is nevertheless recommended.

However, the digestibility of plant protein is somewhat poorer than that of animal protein. This means that the body is not as efficient at utilizing plant proteins and can make better use of animal protein.18

However, this does not make plant protein the worse protein, just slightly less efficient.

One reason why whey or whey protein is often taken as a dietary supplement is that it is quickly available to the body.19 Only rice protein can compete with whey in this respect.20

How much protein does the body need per day?

How high your daily protein requirement is depends very much on how active you are and what demands are placed on your body. As an average person, you need less than a pregnant woman or a bodybuilder or competitive athlete.

The German Nutrition Society states that adults should consume 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. For a person weighing 75 kg, this corresponds to around 60 g.

Children have a slightly higher requirement, at 0.9 g / kg body weight. This is due to the fact that children grow faster than adults.

Pregnant women should consume between 7 g (2nd trimester) and 21 g (3rd trimester) of additional protein daily, depending on the stage of pregnancy. The latter recommendation also applies to breastfeeding mothers.21

Amateur athletes should also consume more than 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. Studies have shown that an intake of 1.1 to 1.4 g protein / kg body weight achieves good results.22

The protein requirement is highest for competitive athletes. A supply of 1.6 to 2.2 g / kg body weight is described as effective, although there is no clear consensus in the scientific community.2324

The timing of protein intake: when does it work best?

For the average consumer who just wants to cover their energy and nutrient requirements, the timing of eating is not so important. It is more important to eat foods with a lot of protein, as protein is a nutrient with many functions in the body.

For muscle building - sufficient protein is most important

To build muscle, make sure you consume enough protein after training. However, it is not necessary to strictly adhere to a 15-minute window.

Recent studies have shown that up to 120 minutes after training, the ingested protein is effectively used for muscle building.27 And even this is only necessary at an advanced stage. For normal exercisers, it is more important that the total protein consumption is correct and that the exercises provide sufficient muscle stimulation.28

Against muscle loss - Equal amounts of protein with every meal

If muscle loss is to be prevented, an even intake of protein at all meals achieves the best results. As most people eat the most protein at lunch and dinner, a protein breakfast is therefore recommended.29

If you find it difficult to get the protein you need, you can SATURO can help. With 25 g of protein per 500 ml bottle, you have a complete supplement with a high protein content. The bars with 13 g protein are the ideal snack for in between meals.

What happens to the body with protein deficiency?

If there is an undersupply of protein, the body begins to cannibalize existing muscle tissue to supply itself with it. The decrease in muscle mass also reduces muscle function and strength.

This is one reason why it is particularly important for older people to ensure they have a sufficient protein intake. Failure to do so increases the risk of frailty and bone fractures.

If a deficiency persists over a longer period of time, even the existing muscle tissue can no longer provide sufficient amino acids. The result is an impairment of important metabolic functions.30

However, a protein deficiency is extremely rare in the western world with a diet that provides sufficient calories.31 However, it does occur in developing countries and especially on the African continent.

The disease kwashiorkor causes those affected to develop a bloated stomach. An undersupply of certain essential amino acids ensures that too few albumins are produced. As a result, the osmotic pressure cannot be maintained and tissue fluid from the abdomen is not reabsorbed.

Proteins and sport

Protein and sport go hand in hand. Proteins are needed to build up cells and are therefore also part of muscle mass. People who do sport generally want to build muscle and therefore focus on foods with a lot of protein.

This is a sensible approach, as athletes have a much higher requirement than a couch potato. But getting enough protein can be difficult in stressful everyday life. Protein shakes, especially after training, are therefore a good choice.

However, there is no need to worry and stress about eating straight after training. The potential muscle gains will not disappear. Consuming enough protein per day should be the main focus.

Conclusion

Protein is a vital nutrient that serves many more purposes than just muscle building. Among other things, it is a building block for hormones and enzymes and is used to transport nutrients.

The recommendation is 0.8 g / kg body weight for a normal adult, far more for amateur or extreme athletes and pregnant women. A deficiency is rare in the western world.

Proteins consist of essential and non-essential amino acids. Almost every food contains all essential amino acids, but they are not always evenly distributed.

If you want to build muscle, it's more important that you train hard enough and eat enough protein than when you eat it. To meet your nutrient and protein requirements even in stressful everyday life, the shakes and bars from SATURO.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions about protein and protein

How much protein is in Saturo contain?

At the SATURO meal replacement, around 21% of the calories come from protein, so there is a high protein content. The bar contains 13g of protein, the 500ml bottle contains 25g, the 330ml Tetra Pak contains 17g and the recommended amount of powder (110g) also contains 25g. The powder is available with soy protein or whey protein, both of which have a complete amino acid profile.

How much protein a day do I need if I don't exercise?

If you do not exercise and are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding, 0.8 g protein / kg body weight is sufficient. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, the requirement increases by approx. 20 g per day.

Is it possible to eat too much protein?

There is an assumption that excessive protein consumption is bad for the kidneys, as they are overloaded by unutilized protein. While there may be problems for people with kidney problems, there is no danger for healthy people.

What is the difference between protein and egg white?

There is no difference between protein and egg white. Protein is simply the colloquial name for protein.

Collapsible content

Sources

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