What is protein?
Protein is one of three classes of food called macronutrients (the other two are fats and carbohydrates) and is made up of amino acids (called “the building blocks of protein”). Your body breaks down the protein from your food into amino acids, and then reassembles these amino acids into structures like bones and muscles and circulating proteins like enzymes and hormones.
Why do I need protein?
Protein furnishes the raw materials that become muscles, organs, hair, neurotransmitters, enzymes and just about anything else your body needs to keep it running right.
Protein also plays a role in weight loss or weight management. Compared to carbohydrates, protein:
- Has less of an effect on insulin (which drives fat storage)
- Has a greater effect on glucagon (which drives fat release)
- Creates a greater increase in metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories)
- And, creates a greater increase in satiety (feeling full)
How much protein do I need?
The conventional wisdom is that we need at least 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which translates to about .7 grams of protein per pound. But the need for protein varies with many factors such as age, stress, gender and body composition (how much fat you have versus how much muscle). Athletes clearly need more protein than non-athletes, and people trying to lose weight also do better with higher protein intakes. The best answer is that protein needs are variable, but a good rule of thumb is between 25 and 30 percent of your daily calories.
How do I get protein into my diet?
You can get protein from various sources: poultry, fish, meats, whey, eggs, and milk protein score close to the top of the list of best choices. In some (but not all) scoring systems, soy does well also.
Atkins products use a blend of proteins: whey, soy and caseinate (milk protein).