Protein is one of three macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and fat. Of the three, it has the best reputation, because while many diets try to drastically curtail the amount of fat or carbohydrates in the diet, generally protein is seen as more crucial, and diets make allowances for it. However, just like we all need carbohydrates and fats, we all need protein too. That being said, for vegans, vegetarians, and others with restricted diets, it can be difficult to get enough protein from food sources.
What is Protein?
Protein is the substance that contains amino acids, which provide very important roles in our bodily health. Amino acids are critical for life, and while the body can generate some of these on its own, there are others that can only be obtained from the foods we eat. Therefore, amino acids are classified as essential, which must be found in the diet, and nonessential, which may be produced by our bodies.
Why Do We Need Protein?
The one thing nearly everyone knows in regards to our reliance on protein is that protein builds muscle. Without it, our muscles would break down and we would grow weak and die. However, protein is critical for so much more than simply building and repairing muscle (not that this isn’t very important). It’s also important for various hormones, enzymes, and other parts of the body. Without them, without protein, our bodies simply couldn’t function.