Food for thought: Protein, not as simple as it may seem.

Protein seems to be a buzz topic of late, with implications in lean mass gain and maintenance and also fat mass loss. It has been shown that diets with an appropriate spread and distribution of protein (along with an appropriate training program) can contribute to an increase in myofibrillar protein (aka muscle) and that a higher protein diet may also assist with weight loss. Although protein is often spoken about as a single entity, protein is actually made up of several amino acids, and the type of protein will dictate what amino acids are within that protein. Amino acids are said to be “essential” (EAA) and “non-essential” (NEAA), whereby EAA must be consumed as the body cannot make them, while NEAA are able to be made by the body, and are therefore not “essential” within the diet, although, historically, these terms were coined dependant on nitrogen balance, and therefore adequate growth within the body. However, there is increasing evidence that although NEAA can indeed be made by the body there are conditions in which these amino acids may be required in higher amounts, such as during wound healing. While specific protein fragments known as “bio-active” peptides (formed by hydrolysis either through digestion, food processing or microbial fermentation) have roles within the body, which are beyond that of the intact, parent protein such as immune function, metabolism regulation and potentially supporting the health and performance of connective tissues.


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