IMPORTANCE OF PROTEIN

The word  “protein” comes from the Greek word “protos” which means “first”;  “proteios” stands for  “primary” and  “proteion” translates as

 “ the first place”. Proteins  rightfully deserve their  name,  as they  are the most  fundamental components of all living cells. Consisting of chains of amino acids,  proteins are a necessary part of the human diet and are supplied especially by such foods as meat, milk, eggs and legumes. 

Proteins make up nearly half of the dry weight of the human body and are constantly being replaced. With the exception of  the water component, protein represents 98% – 99%  of the skeletal muscles .Research indicates that exercise of either long duration, high volume or high-intensity increases the protein requirements of athletes; in fact athletes may require between 23 and 178 percent more protein than average people ! 

The longer or harder an athlete trains, the more important dietary protein becomes to maximizing the muscles’ repair and building process. As training breaks down muscle proteins, muscles require protein intake to be used for repair and rebuilding. When there is not sufficient protein available for these processes, exercise will keep continuously breaking down muscle tissue, and the athlete will end up loosing valuable tissue (catabolic state) !

Weight-training athletes, who considerably increased their intake of dietary protein, were found to be able to increase their strength, muscular hardness and lean body mass. This increase of lean mass brings about an increase of the body’s metabolism, which is the most important aspect in achieving and maintaining a healthy, lean physique. After all, bigger muscles burn more calories all day long than little muscles, whether during exercise or at rest !!! 

Endurance athletes are also well advised to increase their protein intake, as prolonged aerobic exercise can burn amino acids after the body uses up its stored glycogen (gluconeogenesis). In the event that there are not enough amino acids derived from dietary proteins circulating in the blood, the body has no other choice than acquiring the needed amino acids through breaking down muscle tissue, thus cannibalizing itself.

Dietary protein is, however, not only vital for the repair of existing tissue levels ,the synthesis of new tissue and used as an alternative source of energy during periods of intense stress, injury and caloric deficiency.

The amino acids, derived from ingested dietary proteins, are in fact also essential for the synthesis of  other amino acids as well as hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes and other biochemicals and -last, but not least – also of utmost importance for the optimal functioning of the immune system!!!

Protein-deficient athletes can expect such conditions as tiredness, reduced energy, weakness, mental depression, lowered resistance to infections and disease, slower healing of injuries and prolonged recovery from exercise. As whole-food sources of protein are often high in fat and additionally place  high demands on the digestive system, it is important to understand that it is virtually impossible for any athlete to make optimum progress without the steady use of a quality protein supplement.

Importance of Protein by

Dr. Christoph Klueppel
Master of Fitness Sciences
Specialist in Performance Nutrition
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