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Proteins, the building blocks for muscle growth

Sport and fitness

The right amount of protein is important for everyone, even more so for athletes

"The building blocks of our body": this is the definition that is often used to refer to protein. It is therefore no coincidence that the term "protein" comes from the Greek protos, or "primary".

These macronutrients can be divided into:

  • Animal protein;
  • Plant protein.

Protein of animal origin has a greater biological value as it provides a greater amount of essential amino acids than protein of plant origin.

This "quality" gap can however be partly filled by matching up plant foods from different sources (nuts and seeds, or different legumes, such as the classic "pasta and beans").

But, why does our body need protein?

And what is the amount of protein that we have to take every day?

The roles played by these substances are different, but their main function is to provide the amino acids necessary for cell renewal.

As a matter of fact, the human body continually replaces "worn-out" proteins by resorting to a kind of tournover; by means of this mechanism, the body can replace the amino acids used for producing energy, and store the others, in order to support some tissues (e.g. in case of intense physical activity).

The amount of protein that an adult must take in a day is roughly equal to 1 gramme per kilogram of ideal body weight.

The protein requirement is, however, higher during the growth stage and in people who exercise regularly.

Protein supplements: your help to "build up muscles"

According to nutritionists, the daily protein intake should come by 2/3 from animal foods and by 1/3 from plant foods.

As with all things, however, one should avoid excesses: excessive intake of animal protein (especially when combined with large amounts of saturated fats) can indeed cause strain on the kidneys.

With that said, it is nevertheless undeniable that those who perform heavy physical work or practise the so-called "power-exerting sports" (e.g. bodybuilding), aimed at increasing muscles, need more protein than a person who lives a sedentary lifestyle.

Indeed, the body of an athlete is characterised by a greater presence of lean body mass, which is necessary to maintain a good amount of protein.

During periods of more intense workout, food may therefore not be sufficient to provide an adequate amount of these macronutrients (bear in mind that proteins are also partly used for energy purposes and partly can be lost through sweating).

The difficulty for an athlete who wants to increase lean body mass lies in ensuring your body, through food only, the right amount and quality of protein, without simultaneously taking too much fat.

To meet this need, it can be useful to consume protein supplements, designed specifically for athletes.

In the formulation of these products, you may often find whey proteins or caseinates (both milk proteins) and branched chain amino acids (valine, isoleucine, leucine), aspartic acid or glutamine (fundamental constituents of proteins).

For greater effectiveness, some specific supplements can be fortified with iron and folic acid (to counteract fatigue), as well as mineral salts and vitamins (such as magnesium, zinc, manganese and vitamins C, D and K) useful for supporting the health of bones (often stressed during the most intense physical exertion).

Check out here our full line all supplements containing protein!


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