Protein- it’s not just about your muscle growth
When we think of protein, we think about muscles. And rightly so, protein is the building block of muscle tissue and is an important part of growth and recovery of muscle.
This is how protein is marketed so well. By focussing on its aesthetic value.
However, in the Brotherhood Training Club, we’re athletes. We’re intelligent. We want to know more and we question more. We care about our performance. The aesthetics happen to be a bonus of performing to our optimum.
So, is there more to protein than meets the eye? We’re going to answer that question for those of you who have our Nutrition Guide, it will make sense why we make protein a priority.
What is protein?
Protein is a macro nutrient made of carbon and hydrogen. It differs to Carbohydrates and Fats, in that it contains Nitrogen. Protein is made up of amino acids. There are two types of amino acid: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids need to be obtained through our diets. There are 9 of these. The body can make non-essential amino acids and there are 12 of these.
Enzymes are the largest group of proteins in the body and speed up every chemical reaction that occurs in the body.
For example, metabolic exnzymes such as glycogensynthase, speed up the synthesis of glycogen, which is an important store of carbohydrates for athletes, found in the muscle and liver.
Without protein, the amino acids that combine to form important enzymes that help us to perform may not be optimised!
These live in cell membranses and allow molecules to pass between spaces in and out of cells. They play a role in allowing vitamins, minerals, glucose and amino acids into cells. This is clearly hugely important in allowing our cells, the building block of bodies, to function effectively. This again highlights the importance of protein.
Hormomes are chemical messengers, released by the endocrine system, which help to direct overall body function. Many of them are derived from amino acids and peptides, which in turn, are derived from protein. An example, is thyroxine, which plays a crucial role in heart and digestive function, metabolism, brain development, bone health and muscle control. A thyroxine deficiency will lower the metabolic rate, causing weight gain, memory problems, infertility, fatigue and muscle stiffness. Again, something that’s missing from the protein is good for muscles narrative.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers. However, they belong to the nervous system, rather than the endocrine system. This means that they provide important signals across spaces in cells, rather than in the bloodstream. As you’d expect, they are comprised mainly of amino acids, which we know are the smallest constituents of protein.
Dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter has been dubbed the “motivation molecule”. Research has linked its release to improved attention and concentration. This is very important as athletes who need to focus on learning and performing complex skills. Those feelings we get from getting stronger, fitter and more athletically able, is due to the release of dopamine, rewarding you for your efforts and signalling to you to keep progressing.
Being healthy, means being able to fight off illness, so that we can continually perform to our optimum. Antibodies are Y-shaped protein produced mainly by plasma cells that is used by the immune system to neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Again, they are proteins!
Basically, protein is important for optimal physiological functioning. Given that protein cannot be stored, it must be in constant supply. How can you ensure this? By making sure your prioritising eating protein in every meal!
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