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- Written by Orla Ni Bhriain
These days, when it comes to planning your diet or knowing what kind of diet to follow, it can be quite a minefield - probably even overwhelming at times, to be honest. Whilst we are all incredibly lucky to have so many resources available at our fingertips, offering us advice on the multitudes of ways we can stay healthy - it’s very likely that those around you are obtaining their nutrients in completely different ways.You are likely to know people who are vegans; or on paleo, keto, Atkins, 5:2 diets etc. - the list is endless. To make things easy, let’s throw all of the different types of diets aside for the purpose of this post and focus on protein, and the very basic science as to why we need protein in our diets.
After water, protein is the second most prevalent compound inside our bodies, making up 43% of muscle mass, and with a large active presence in our blood (16%) and our skin (15%) [1.]. Within every single cell in our bodies we have proteins, which function to serve various metabolic interactions, which are essential to our good health, and ensure that we have adequate growth and repair within our bodies. Around 10-15% of our dietary energy is obtained from proteins . Dr Harry says,
Dr Harrison Weisinger explains why amino acids are fundamental to our protein intake, he says ‘all proteins are made up of amino acids, ‘the building blocks’, linked together by peptide bonds, and the sequence of amino acids ultimately determines the three-dimensional structure of that protein.’ Altogether there are about 20 different Amino acids - 9 of which are essential and need to be provided via our diet, all of which can be obtained from plant and animal proteins . Dr Weisinger says, ‘Humans are able to biosynthesise most amino acids, but not all of them. Some of them – nine to be precise – cannot be made from scratch in the body. These nine “essential” amino acids must be consumed in the diet. In the case where people have modified their diet for health, religious or ethical reasons, or don’t otherwise have access to a wide variety of meat and vegetables, supplementation can ensure adequate intake of the nine essential amino acids.’ The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. The other 11 amino acids are non essential and don’t have to be provided via a person’s diet and can be created by the body in a process known as transamination .
Protein intake is an essential component within the body for the maintenance of muscle mass and muscle growth. For those who are undergoing strength training, protein has been scientifically proven to assist with growth of muscle mass [5, 6], studies have also shown that increased protein intake can also aid with reduction in muscle loss when losing weight . Protein is also vital when it comes to maintenance of good bone bone health , with some studies indicating protein can have a high correlation with lower risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures . Research scientists have also found that protein, particularly plant proteins, have a positive effect in reducing blood pressure .
When it comes to implementing a healthy and sustainable fitness and weight loss regime, protein is a key player. We all know how difficult cravings are when trying to lose weight, well studies have found upping protein intake to have a direct correction with snack reduction . Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, has been proven to be significantly reduced with the presence of protein in the body . In one study it was shown that women who increased their protein intake from 15% to 30% displayed a caloric deficit of 441 daily .
High protein intake has been shown in studies to boost people’s metabolism, and because protein requires energy to metabolise, a diet high in protein can also increase the number calories burned daily [14,15]. Finally, If you’re training hard and have injured yourself, protein can also play a key role in assisting with recovery, with several studies pointing to a relationship between increased recovery times and protein intake .
You may be wondering, if there are age-groups who should be more conscious of their protein intake, well, Dr Harry says:
Some studies have found a correlation between frailty in later life and a reduced intake of dietary protein. Sarcopenia - is primarily a disease of the elderly characterised by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function - has been linked to lower protein intake. A study conducted by researchers in Ireland from St Vincent's University Hospital and Trinity College Dublin looked at 46 individual studies on the effectiveness of different interventions for frailty, and concluded that ‘a combination of strength exercises and protein supplementation is the most effective and easiest to implement intervention to delay or reverse frailty .’ In response to the research, the NHS said at the time, ‘with the growing prevalence of frailty and increasing pressure on GPs to identify people at risk, this systematic review is highly relevant .’
Our Truth Origins team are incredibly proud to have launched our first plant protein powder - Eleventh Hour - which is a combination of pea, pumpkin seed, and hemp protein.
Our Scientific Director, Dr Harrison Weisinger, says,
Stay tuned for next week where we discuss protein intake amounts for various lifestyles/activity levels + the best protein source options!
Any topics you would like to hear more on?
 https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and ingredients/protein.html?start=1
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