Protein supplements are commonly used by body builders, sports persons, slimmers, convalescents, elderly or anyone trying to build more muscle and strength into their body. Whilst protein is significant component of many foods, it is avaiable as a concentrate -normally a powder- and used as a meal substitute. In this form protein is essentially a mix of amino acids. Individual amino acids are available as separate food supplements for more specific health purposes. To maximise the value of any protein supplement it is vital to have sufficient magnesium in our body- a mineral which is commonly deficient in our food chain.
Proteins are large biological molecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more long chains of amino acid residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within living organisms, including catalyzing metabolic reactions, replicating DNA, responding to stimuli, and transporting molecules from one location to another. Proteins differ from one another primarily in their sequence of amino acids.
Proteins are essential parts of organisms and participate in virtually every process within cells. Many proteins are enzymes that catalyze biochemical reactions and are vital to metabolism. Proteins also have structural or mechanical functions, such as actin and myosin in muscle and the proteins in the cytoskeleton, which form a system of scaffolding that maintains cell shape. Other proteins are important in cell signaling, immune responses, cell adhesion, and the cell cycle.
Proteins can be informally divided into three main classes, which correlate with typical tertiary structures: globular proteins, fibrous proteins, and membrane proteins. Almost all globular proteins are soluble and many are enzymes. Fibrous proteins are often structural, such as collagen, the major component of connective tissue, or keratin, the protein component of hair and nails. Membrane proteins often serve as receptors or provide channels for polar or charged molecules to pass through the cell membrane.
The best-known role of proteins in the cell is as enzymes, which catalyze chemical reactions. Enzymes are usually highly specific and accelerate only one or a few chemical reactions. Enzymes carry out most of the reactions involved in metabolism, as well as manipulating DNA in processes such as DNA replication, DNA repair, and transcription.
Structural proteins confer stiffness and rigidity to otherwise-fluid biological components. Most structural proteins are fibrous proteins; for example, collagen and elastin are critical components of connective tissue such as cartilage, and keratin is found in hard or filamentous structures such as hair and nails.
Humans must obtain some of the amino acids from the diet.The amino acids that an organism cannot synthesize on its own are referred to as essential amino acids. Amino acids are obtained through the consumption of foods containing protein. Ingested proteins are then broken down into amino acids through digestion, which typically involves denaturation of the protein through exposure to acid and hydrolysis by enzymes called proteases. Some ingested amino acids are used for protein biosynthesis, while others are converted to glucose through gluconeogenesis, or fed into the citric acid cycle. The theoretical calorific value of a protein is much greater than its conversion in a body to weight or direct energy. However, the use of protein as a fuel is particularly important under starvation conditions as it allows the body's own proteins to be used to support life, particularly those found in muscle.
High levels of protein can be found from using a carnivore or a vegan diet. It is perhaps easier to include protein from a diet that doesn’t exclude groups of foods. For most people a diet should include 25 to 30% protein. Meats as a diet will include certain key nutrients at a high level that may be more difficult to find from a vegetable oriented diet. Meats include higher levels of B Vitamins, particularly Vitamin B12, and Iron. Generally, it is better to have some protein at each meal. A meal with a significant level of protein seems to be better able to sustain blood glucose levels.
Higher levels of protein are necessary for sports persons to develop higher muscle levels so as to develop higher strength to weight ratios. Protein must be taken in distributed amounts during a day as the digestion and body can only take in a limited amount of protein at any meal. Protein supplements, or meal substitutes, are available in concentrated powder form as sourced from dairy or soy whey, or alternatively from egg or vegetable sources. These protein powders contain high concentrations of amino acids.
Older people and others can develop sarcopenia( muscle wasting) when proteins are not absorbed easily and as a result health can deteriorate. This often occurs because stomach digestion deteriorates and the food proteins are not broken down into amino acids that can be absorbed fully.
Protein powders used for meal substitutes can vary considerably in quality and bio-absorption. The techniques for separating say, whey from milk, and the quality of the original milk source are factors. Ensure that these whey powders or other protein powders do not use unhealthy sugar substitutes for flavouring.