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Essentials of Nutrition Series: Protein

Posted March 24, 2010 by

In this day and age, you can pretty much throw a rock in any direction and hit a person who’s following some sort of fad diet—whether it’s a low-carbohydrate variation like the Atkins Diet, a low-fat variation like the Scarsdale Medical Diet, a low calorie variation like the CRON-diet or anything in between. Many of these diets are marketed as being “scientifically-formulated,” however it’s important to understand the fundamentals of nutrition before undertaking any of these potentially-dangerous dieting styles. Failing to educate yourself properly can lead you down the path of energy-loss, lackluster results and consequently evaporating motivation.

While a lot of folks try to overly-complicate the concepts of nutrition, the fact of the matter is that food is only made up of three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Each macronutrient has a primary function with regards to what it does for your body and it is important to understand what these functions are before you attempt to severely limit the intake of one or more of them through your dieting efforts.

Protein, as you may have heard, is the building-block of muscle. Muscle cannot repair or build upon itself without the full spectrum of amino acids that protein provides. The body can create a portion of the amino acids on its own (termed “nonessential”), but without the ones that it can’t create (termed “essential”), the muscle repair/building process is halted. This is a bad thing if you work out, because in doing so you are breaking down your muscles slightly with the intention of allowing your body to repair them, stronger than before. If your body can’t perform the repair cycle, then you’re left with broken-down muscle that is weaker, not stronger, than before. Instead of seeing progress, you’ll be taking huge steps backwards and will experience muscle loss, fatigue and a loss of strength.

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