What are proteins and what are they for?

It is important to know what proteins are. These nutrients are supplied through the diet and are essential and perform many functions in the body.

Below we will tell you in detail everything you need to know about them. Once you understand its health implications, chances are you’ll focus more on meeting your needs for this nutrient.


There are 3 types of macronutrients or immediate principles: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. They get this name because they are found in high amounts in foodswhich allows to satisfy the energy needs of the organism.

The specific functions of proteins are diverse. They are found in animal and plant foods and are part of cellular structures and tissues. Ensuring a correct intake therefore allows you to prevent the loss of muscle mass.

In the current scientific literature it is stated that not ingesting the necessary proteins is one of the risk factors for the onset of sarcopenia. This disease causes progressive muscle destruction and loss of strength throughout the body.

Furthermore, proteins have many other physiological and anatomical implications. They can act like enzymes, catalyzing internal reactions in cells and in the internal environment. This would be a acceleration of processes that normally slow down. It’s even possible to turn it into glucose in the liver for energy.

Muscles are made of protein
One of the main functions of protein is to build muscle tissue.

Consume protein for good body composition

A protein deficiency can lead to disease. Until recently it was argued that a excess even him. However, currently there is more concern about falling short than overdoing it when it comes to talking about protein intake.

Although proteins in the body are capable of performing many different tasks, its most relevant function is structural. In the case of athletes, ensuring the right amount is essential to allow muscle growth.

Although an intake of 1.2 grams of nutrient per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended for sedentary individuals, the intake is close to 2 grams for athletes. A recent review of studies published in the journal Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition He even recommends increasing intake up to 3 grams per kilogram of body weight per day in those individuals experiencing high muscle wasting.

But it’s not just in sport that consumption needs to be monitored. Protein helps prevent and reduce cachexia processes associated with canceras they claim The experts. This condition consists of a progressive loss of weight and muscle that increases the risk of death in cancer patients.

Does its consumption affect kidney function?

One of the arguments used to limit protein intake was that excessive consumption could cause liver and kidney damage in the medium term. For this reason, in people with a high degree of sedentary lifestyle.

However, a review published in 2017 analyzed the results of several investigations in which high doses of dietary protein were administered over an extended period of time. The results of most of them were that no damage to renal function was found. For this reason, high protein diets are now considered safe.

Not all proteins are created equal

Now you know the importance of proper protein consumption. However, not everything provided through diet has the same quality. There are two basic classes, according to their origin: animals and plants.

The former are characterized by having a higher biological value. This means that they contain all essential amino acids for the human body (those that the body is unable to produce) and enjoy an acceptable level of digestibility.

In contrast, plant proteins are generally deficient in some essential amino acids. Furthermore, its digestibility is lower, which affects its absorption. They are also needed in a varied diet, but it is advisable to ensure that at least 50% of the protein in the diet is of animal origin.

To make you understand the importance of essential amino acids, we emphasize that some of them are involved in the maintenance of muscle mass. This is the case of leucine, capable of stimulating the body’s anabolic pathways, increasing the formation of lean tissue.

A recent research published in the journal The journal of nutrition ensures that supplementing with this amino acid in isolation is able to prevent muscle loss in the elderly. Either way, food will always be the best way to incorporate it.

plant proteins in food
Plant proteins should be part of the diet, but they are less digestible than animal proteins.

Make sure you get enough protein in your diet

We have seen the importance of protein in foods. A deficient intake of this nutrient will affect muscle health. Other physiological reactions can be affected, such as the formation of some hormones.

To make sure you’re consuming the amount of protein you need, analyzing your diet is key. If a food of animal origin appears in every main meal, it is unlikely that you have deficiencies. In any case, try to ensure the presence of plant proteins in snacks as well.

Up until a few years ago it was argued that the right thing to do was to eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight in a day. But at present, the recommendation has been increased. Don’t neglect consumption and in the long run, your health will benefit.

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