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The Importance of Protein

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Eating enough protein is not just important for bodybuilders. Despite its popularity within the fitness world, protein is a major component of health and ensuring you get enough protein is essential.

What is protein?

Protein is an essential macronutrient found in every cell of the body, including muscle, bone, skin, and hair. Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids, basic building blocks composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. There are 20 amino acids that make up the proteins in the human body; 11 which the body can make, and 9 which are considered essential and must be consumed through the diet.¹ Your body contains at least 10,000 different proteins which play an essential role in muscle growth and maintenance, energy production, cartilage structure, hormone regulation, and enzyme production.¹

Proteins are obtained from dietary sources, and the amount of protein you require is influenced by several factors: age, gender, activity levels, pregnancy, and special dietary requirements.

Age

As we age, the body starts to process protein less efficiently which can lead to loss of skeletal muscle mass and an increased risk of falls, functional decline, and frailty.² Increasing your protein intake as you age is essential to preserve muscle mass, protect bone health and support your immune system,³⁻⁴ and spreading your protein intake throughout the day is thought to support muscle synthesis.⁵

Protein is also an essential nutrient for growing kids, as it provides the basics for building and repairing muscles, providing energy, and supporting strong bones.⁶ Many sources of protein also provide important nutrients like vitamin E, B, zinc, iron, and magnesium, which also have roles in essential functions all over the body.⁶

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Gender

Generally, individuals with more muscle mass, higher recommended calorie intake, and larger bodies need more protein each day. However, both weight and activity level play an important role in protein requirements.⁷ Recommended protein intake depends on your training level and end goals, so a male and female of a similar size and weight who are both strength training towards similar goals would have similar recommended protein intakes.

If you train regularly, you should be aiming for 1-2g of protein per kg body weight, and this needs to be adjusted depending on the type of exercise, intensity, and frequency. If you don’t train, your recommended intake may be closer to 0.8-1g per kg.⁷

Pregnancy

Adequate protein intake during pregnancy is essential to provide the building blocks for the baby’s cells and organs, and the development of skin, hair, fingernails, muscles, and bones.⁸ Protein also supports breast and uterine tissue growth, and plays a role in increasing the blood supply and ensuring adequate blood is supplied to the baby.⁸
Protein intake is especially critical during the second and third trimesters (week 13+), when the baby and mother are growing the fastest.⁹

Vegetarian and vegan diets

A common concern about vegetarian or vegan diets is that they may lack sufficient protein, and a poorly planned meat-free diet may leave you lacking in certain nutrients.¹⁰ However, many plant-based foods are great sources of protein and also provide great levels of essential vitamins and minerals.

When following a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s important to eat protein from a variety of sources to ensure you consume adequate amounts of the essential amino acids.¹¹ Complementary food combinations are a great way to ensure you obtain all the essential amino acids, and great combinations which provide a complete amino acid profile include: whole wheat toast and nut butter, wholegrain pitta and hummus, beans and rice, oatmeal with peanut butter, and spinach salad with sunflower seeds.

For more information on adequate protein intake for a vegetarian or vegan diet, visit the Vegan Society.

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Feel Protein

We know when you’re busy and on the go, it’s not always easy to ensure you’re eating enough protein. Our protein products are specifically developed to support your protein intake and help you to achieve your goals, alongside essential vitamins and minerals for added performance.

Our combination of plant-based proteins provides a complete profile of essential amino acids, perfect for pre or post-workout to support essential muscle performance and recovery.
By providing an optimal essential amino acid profile which cannot be synthesised in the body, our protein blends ensure optimal muscle growth and repair, plus sustained energy, designed to enhance your workout.

For days when you don’t have time to stop for lunch, try our Complete Meal, with 4 sources of complete plant-based protein and 29 additional vitamins, minerals, and botanicals. Or to support your workout, try our Clear Protein, 10g of protein and an added blend of essential B vitamins to support energy production and cognition.

References

¹ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32496725/
² https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352766/
³ https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/8/5311
⁴ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17403271/
⁵ https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2020.00025/full
⁶ https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3402/fnr.v57i0.21083
⁷ https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02640414.2011.619204
⁸ https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/7/4/839S/4568693?login=true
⁹ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5882021/
¹⁰ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561420306567
¹¹ https://faunalytics.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Citation2049.pdf
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WeAreFeel Nutrition Team - All content provided on our blog is created exclusively for our readers by our research and nutrition team. We try to provide as much scientific backing as possible with references to support any claims made.
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