Proteins makes up the structural parts of the human body.

Proteins are made up of twenty (20) amino acids.

Proteins are second only to water in abundance within the body.

Proteins are part of functionally important molecules.

Proteins are not stored in the manner of carbohydrates or fats.

There is no reservoir of amino acids and their concentration of in body fluids is quite low. It is not surprising then, that fat and carbohydrates must supply most of the energy required to regenerate ATP to fuel exercise.

 

Proteins are complex polymers, constructed of chains of nitrogen-containing amino acids. These amino acids are always arranged in a carefully ordered sequence. Although there are eighty naturally occurring amino acids, only twenty of them are used by the human body.

The twenty amino acids are arranged in different combinations to form small polypeptides and as many as 100,000 different proteins.

These peptides and proteins have important structural and functional roles in the body.

Some amino acids are assembled into specific sequences and become essential components of enzymes, membrane receptors and ion channels.

Some amino acids provide strength to structural proteins while others confer contractile ability to muscle cells and still others are used to form neurotransmitters.

 

All amino acids contain an amino group (-NH2) and a carboxylic acid group (-COOH). These two functional groups lend their names to the classification of these compounds as amino acids.

Amino acids are grouped into essential and non-essential amino acids. Non-essential indicates only that the body can synthesize it, while an essential amino acid cannot be. It is not an indication of importance.

Protein has been the nutrient of choice for elite athletes since the first Greek Olympic games when it was believed that the high protein from red meat would instill a more aggressive and competitive nature to the dieter.

Many athletes today continue to follow this myth, especially those who engage in heavy exercise. Two more reasons are sited to explain their preference. The first is based on the belief that exercise traumatizes or ‘tears down’ skeletal muscle proteins and therefore, a high-protein diet is needed to repair and achieve muscle hypertrophy. The other explanation is based on the reasoning that exercise enhances the oxidation of amino acids in skeletal muscle. Accordingly, a high protein diet is required to offset the loss of the amino acids broken down or catabolized during exercise.

 

In today’s performance enhancing atmosphere, it is quite acceptable and even advisable to consume red meat, protein powders and amino acid supplements.

The Athlete’s Solution argues a contrary position, that professional body builders, who are uninformed on matters of health, have no business advising anyone. Instead, they direct nutritional policy and provide much of the dietary supplements taken by athletes.

They argue, ‘no pain, no gain’ and offer expertise and training based on 'personal judgement'. They develop bogus products and market them to a very receptive public.

There are also quality products on the market, many of them are limited to distribution by physicians.

Bodybuilders’ emphasis on strength and protein rich foods is based on the theory of injury-induced muscle hypertrophy.

While that in itself is not wrong, their emphasis on protein will cause fatigue, arthritis and premature aging.

 

Proteins contain four calories per gram when metabolized as a source for fuel. The amount of energy is thus equal to that of carbohydrates.

 

More in this category: « Protein II Carbohydrates »