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6 Silent Signs You Could Be Eating Too Much Protein

steak and vegetables

Why we need protein

Protein is a critical part of our diet. We need it to feel full, have energy, build and repair muscle, process nutrients, and boost immunity, among other vital roles. Protein is made up of amino acids that are the building blocks of body tissues, including muscles, blood vessels, hair, skin, and nails. Its also involved in the production of enzymes and hormones that help the body to function normally, saysKaleigh McMordie,a registered dietitian nutritionist.

Why are these amino acids so important? McMordie gives a quick anatomy lesson (in case you spaced out in 10th grade). There are some amino acids that the body can synthesize, but others, called essential amino acids, we must get through our diet. Animal protein sources, such as meat, fish, milk, and eggs, contain all nine essential amino acids. Mostplant-based protein sourcesdont have the full complement of amino acids in the exact right amounts (there are some exceptions, like soybeans). Thats why it is important to include a variety of protein sources in order to get all of the essential amino acids, especially for vegetarians, McMordie says. (Here’s what happens when you don’t eat enough protein.)

If youre a regular exerciser, protein is especially important, according to diet and lifestyle dietitian and registered nutritionist,Keith Akoob, EdD. Protein not only builds muscle, but it also repairs and maintains muscle, he says. Muscle cells, like all living tissue, have a life. They eventually need to be replaced, so repair and maintenance are critical roles for dietary protein.

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