Acknowledged as the building blocks of the body, proteins are complex substances
the body uses to grow, repair and maintain body tissue. Other protein functions
include helping regulate water balance in the body and forming illness-fighting
antibodies. Almost every part of the body including muscles, bones, skin and
organs require protein to stay in good working order. Though proteins can be
converted to energy, the body prefers using carbohydrates and fats as a source
of energy. Proteins are made up of thousands of smaller units called Amino
Nine amino acids are considered ‘essential’ from amongst the twenty
used by the body. They are described as essential due to the body’s inability
to manufacture them on its own. Hence these nine amino acids must be in a persons
While nearly all foods contain protein, only animal protein (meat, fish, & poultry)
contains all nine essential amino acids in the correct proportions. Therefore,
the protein acquired from animal sources is considered ‘complete protein.’ Whereas
protein that originates from plant sources is considered to be incomplete,
because it is low in one or more essential amino acids. Fortunately, a vegetarian
diet can provide all the necessary amino acids the body requires as long as
it includes a variety of beans, rice, pulses, cereals and vegetables.
Nearly all foods contain protein, however certain food items have higher concentrations.
High protein content can be found in meat, eggs, fish, poultry, cereals & grains,
dairy products, beans and nuts.
If we do not intake sufficient carbohydrates/fats then our body will start
using the protein from our muscles to convert to energy. Problems such as muscle
deterioration and overall body weakness will follow. Crash dieters often run
the risk of this occurring. On the other hand, overloading on proteins can
cause stress to the waste-disposal organs such as the kidneys and liver.