Ahhh! If building muscle were as simple as “lifting things up and putting them down,” we’d all look like the gent in the video. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complex. What you put into your body is just as important as how you exercise it. Everyone has heard the adage, “if you want to gain more muscle, have more protein.” The next recommendation is typically to try a protein shake. But what if you are lactose in tolerant? Here is another, what if you are a vegan? How about, you simply want to lose weight but maintain muscle? Welcome to a breakdown of protein basics.
What is protein?
Proteins are a part of every cell in our bodies, especially muscle cells. The proteins found in our cells are constantly being broken down and replaced. This occurs in times like recovery from injury or a hard workout session. The protein that is found in the food we eat is further broken down into amino acids (AA’s). AA’s are considered the building blocks of proteins.
AA’s are classified as either essential or non-essential. Essential AA’s are those which the body cannot produce on its own, thus needing to acquire it from an outside source such as meat or dairy products. Non-essential AA’s are produced by our bodies. In total there are twenty essential and non-essential amino acids. Having a constant intake of protein and thus amino acids is key because the body does not store amino acids.