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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 Acids.

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 diet.

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.


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