We all heard how important protein is from a very young age. We would be told about eating protein in movies like Beauty and the Beast where Gaston ate a dozen eggs to get swall:

“When I was a lad, I ate four dozen eggs

Every morning to help me get large

And now that I’m grown, I eat five dozen eggs

So I’m roughly the size of a barge!” 

And now it seems to be the only macronutrient without any major controversy, not like what carbs or fats have going on at least. One of the most conflicting questions out there is what happens if you consume too much protein? We will get into how much is too much in a minute here, but on the bright side there’s no shadow of the doubt that we need protein!

Let’s start with some basics…

protein sources

What is protein and what does it do in the body?

Protein is a large molecule that is made of 10-100 amino acids. There are 22 amino acids that are considered biologically important. 

We need protein for growth, maintenance and repair of cells, including muscle cells as well as production of enzymes, hormones and DNA. 

Proteins possess important properties required for movement, hormonal properties, structural as a component of connective tissue, transporter properties, enzymes needed for digestion, receptors within the cells. 


To organize it all into five main functions of protein, they are:

  1. Build.

Protein is essential in the process of building of bones, muscles and skin.

  1. Repair.

Protein is used to repair tissues in the body.

  1. Oxygenate.

Red blood cells contain a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. This helps supply your entire body with the nutrients it needs.

  1. Digest.

About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which aids in digesting food, and making new cells and body chemicals.

  1. Regulate.

Protein plays an important role in hormone regulation, especially during the transformation and development of cells during puberty.


What are amino acids?

Amino acids are the compounds filled with nitrogen and oxygen as well as variable side chain group. Our bodies need 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are essential. Your body is not able to produce the nine essential ones and you need to get them from the food sources. Amino acids are a product of protein breakdown and are used for a variety of uses, couple of them being the synthesis of proteins and aiding in building new proteins.

Our bodies are in a constant state of building and breaking down of cell. Amino acids are the reason hair and nails grow, and skin sheds.


So why Proteins are so important? Let’s narrow it down to the top 11 benefits of sufficient protein intake:

  1. Reduces Appetite and Hunger levels

Each micronutrient has its own task and effect in the body. Multiple studies discovered that protein happens to be the most filling one. Protein can control your hunger hormone called Ghrelin and lower its levels, so as a result you feel less hungry as well as more full.

Protein has also been found as a great tool when it comes to losing weight.

  1. Increases muscle mass and strength.

Protein is the main building block for bones and muscles. If your goal is building muscle protein is a friend. It is The intake depends on whether or not you’re maintaining or building, but none the less, it is important to make sure you’re eating enough protein to supple the body with needed nutrients for the muscle gains. Another time where protein intake is crucial, is while losing weight. Protein should be sufficient to make sure you don’t lose muscle mass while losing fat.

  1. Great for the bones

Yet again, protein is a major building block for bones so it’s important to keep the intake at a good level. There are multiple myths when it comes to this one about animal protein not being good for the bones. The claim is that protein increases acid levels in the body and that leads to calcium leaving the bones in order to neutralize the acid. Multiple studies have debunked that theory and it is far from the truth.

         Having a sufficient level of protein intake have a higher chance of maintaining healthy bones as you age and can lower the chance of osteoporosis as well as fractures.

  1. Boosts metabolism and increases fat burning

Your body uses calories to digest foods and use the nutrients that are in it. This process is known as thermic effect of food or TEF. Out of all the macronutrients protein has been found to have the highest thermic effect, which in return burns the most amount of calories. Protein’s thermic effect is 5-15% higher than carbohydrates and fat.

  1. Lowers blood pressure.

Research shows that while on a high protein diet the risk of high blood pressure. During the review of 40 controlled trials, with subjects following a high protein diet the markers for the Bystolic blood pressure went down by 1.76 mm Hg and 1.15 for diastolic blood pressure.

High blood pressure is known to be a cause of heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease, so keeping it in control is key for a longer, healthier life.

  1. Helps with weight loss

This one goes back into the metabolism boosting properties of protein. Diet that is higher in protein, when combined with exercise can aid in building muscle mass, which in return can boost the metabolism. The less fat and more muscle that you have directly affects the fat-burning process. Making sure the protein levels are on the desired levels for the goal is something to focus on.

  1. Aids recovery

If you are someone who loves lifting weights and does that on the regular basis, you need keep the protein intake up to the mark. Protein promotes post workout muscle adaptations and aids in muscle fibers repair. Having protein also helps restoring the energy that’s been depleted during the exercise.   

  1. Repairs injuries

As a building block of tissues, organs, and muscles protein can speed up recovery from injuries. When injury occurs diet high in protein can prevent potential of muscle atrophy and shrink that happens when you are dealing with lack of mobility and movement.

  1. Improves immune system.

In order to be able to efficiently fight off infections your body needs to have a sufficient level of protein intake. Our immune systems release antibodies to fight off viral or bacterial infections. Antibodies are made from proteins and in order to be able to protect the immune system from these viruses and if the protein levels are low it will be hard to successfully fight off those viruses.

  1. Reduces Stress

Stress has huge effects on the body and health. Stress can affect hormones, sugar levels, sleep. Protein aids in sleep quality, helps normalize hormone production. Intake in the morning can improve energy levels as well as reduce agitation and mood fluctuations. Healthy diet in general has great effect on managing stress level.

  1. Improves brain function

Not enough protein in the system can affect a few of the hormones and enzymes and neurotransmitters that are needed for proper brain function.


Where to get protein from?

So you decided that you want to focus on your protein intake, but now you are facing a question of where the hell to get enough of it. Well, there are multiple options that we are going to go over now.

Animal Protein– poultry, red meat, fish, eggs, milk are the main examples. The main benefit of animal protein is that it comes with a full spectrum of essential amino acids. Chicken breast, turkey breast, tilapia, mahi-mahi, egg whites, lean ground beef are some of the options that are low in fat and macro nutrient wise are the purest high protein products. 

Protein powder- there are a variety of protein powders from whey to casein to vegan proteins made of peas or soy. While protein powder should not be the main source of protein intake, adding 

Protein bars- can be a good snack. A lot of the different brands are high in sugar, so our recommendation would be to check the nutrition information to make sure the sugar levels are not too high.

Vegan sources- lots of vegetables, legumes and nuts are packed with protein and are a great way to get enough protein if you’re following a vegan diet. One thing to look out for is that most of them are not pure protein and either have carbs or fats as a part of them, so if you’re trying to lose weight keeping an eye for overall calories would be important.

plant protein

How much protein do you actually need:

The daily recommendation for protein is in the range of 0.8-1 grams of protein per 1 kilogram of weight. Intake depends on exercise and the goals of individual. For building muscles you’ll be needing about 30% of the daily intake, and being in the range of 1-2 grams per kilogram of weight.  

To bring it the full circle:

Protein is highly important no matter what your fitness goals are. There are plenty of options both animal based and vegan and as a major building block of tissues and muscle keeping the intake at a sufficient levels.

What are some of your favorite proteins? Let us know in the comment section.

By Co-Author (Primary): Karina Movsesova

Editor: Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio