Why is protein necessary for building muscles?
"Protein is a vital macronutrient for repairing and building muscles because it contains essential amino acids, which are not produced by the body." - John K.
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Proteins provide energy, regulate body processes, boost immunity, balance body fluids, increase muscle strength and mass, and maintain optimal health during aging and normal growth processes. Amino acids in proteins make enzymes and hormones while repairing bones and muscles. The daily intake of protein for building muscle mass depends on various aspects such as gender, age, health, and activity levels, among other variables.
The recommended daily intake is about 1.2–1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of your weight.
If you weigh 190 pounds, which is equivalent to 86.2 kg, you need to consume a daily protein intake of 103 and 138 grams combined with resistance workouts to facilitate muscle growth. You can meet your daily protein intake by consuming animal and plant-based protein sources.
Here are some protein-rich sources and their nutritional contents that have an incredible impact on muscle growth and repair.
1. Lean meat (pork, beef, or lamb)
Lean meat is composed of proteins containing all the vital amino acids that your body needs for muscle growth and maintenance. Lean meat is a well-rounded diet because its protein composition is similar to that of your muscles. In 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of lean meat with a 10% fat content, there is about 26.1 grams of protein. Lean meat has a protein content of about 26% when cooked. Consuming lean meat and other sources of proteins combined with various strength workouts helps to build and maintain muscle mass.
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2. Dairy products
Dairy foods contain casein and whey, which are the two major forms of protein. Milk is rich in proteins and contains all the essential amino acids. In a one-cup serving, milk provides about 8.3 grams of protein, while 1 ounce of mozzarella and 1 ounce of cottage cheese contain about 6.9 and 3.5 grams, respectively. Proteins in dairy products are considered to be of high quality, with a great proportion of vital amino acids.
Casein forms 80% of the protein in milk, with an abundance of alpha-casein. It prevents high blood pressure and boosts the absorption of vital minerals such as phosphorus and calcium. Whey proteins account for the remaining 20% and are essential for reducing hypertension, boosting moods, and promoting excellent muscle growth. Dairy products also contain vital minerals and vitamins such as vitamin B12, phosphorus, and calcium. Daily products help with bone health and osteoporosis, blood pressure, heart health, and maintaining a good weight.
Legumes are the best source of protein, with approximately 12 grams of protein in a half-cup serving when cooked. Lentils have numerous micronutrients, such as iron, potassium, zinc, and B vitamins, that promote your health. Proteins from plant-based sources do not have all the vital amino acids that your body needs to build muscles. Legumes contain nine amino acids, with a lower concentration of methionine. By incorporating methionine-rich foods like grains, seeds, and nuts, lentils can become a wholesome protein diet like dairy and meat. Legumes have numerous health benefits, such as managing blood sugar, promoting heart health, supporting the digestive system, and reducing certain chronic diseases.
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4. Sea food and fish
Fish and sea foods are the powerhouses of omega-3 fatty acids and proteins. Various types of fish contain about 18–20 grams of protein in a 100-gram cooked serving. They also contains all of the necessary amino acids and vitamins, including vitamin D, which has been linked to sarcopenia determinants such as muscle function and muscle mass. Sea foods such as shrimp, haddock, tuna, sole, and crab are very high protein sources with low fat content that help to build and repair muscles in your body. Intake of sea food and fish can reduce muscle soreness, promote healthy muscles as you age, and improve your workout quality as it facilitates muscle strength.
Eggs are an excellent source of quality protein, which is essential for building muscles and bones while improving your overall health. It contains all the vital amino acids and various protein contents depending on the size of the egg, as follows:
An extra-large egg weighing 63 grams contains a protein content of about 7.94 grams.
A large egg weighing 51 grams contains a protein content of about 6.4 grams.
A medium egg weighing 45 grams contains a protein content of about 5.55 grams.
A small egg weighing 38 grams contains a protein content of about 4.8 grams.
Eggs improve your "good" cholesterol, provide omega-3 fatty acids, boost your mental health, promote muscle growth and development, and provide vitamin D, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones and muscles.
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6. Soy products
Various soy products, such as tofu, soybean oil, soy milk, and soy flour, are excellent sources of proteins, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients crucial for various health benefits. Soybeans contain about 36-56% of their dry weight in protein. One cup boiled contains approximately 31 grams (172 grams). It also contain various minerals and vitamins such as molybdenum, folate, vitamin K, thiamine, phosphorous, and copper, which are essential for various body functions. Soy bean consumption has numerous health benefits, including improved bone and muscle health, lower cancer risk, improved blood circulation, and aiding digestion.
Protein is a vital micronutrient that you must consume daily. Other than increasing your muscle strength and mass, it reduces cravings, boosts your metabolism, lowers blood pressure, maintains a healthy weight balance, and repairs worn-out tissues. Incorporating protein-rich foods such as soy products, lean meat, fish and seafood, eggs, and dairy products with workouts facilitates muscle building. Note that animal protein sources are better when it comes to building muscles than plant-based protein sources. Animal protein sources contain all the essential amino acids and are easily digested.