Why is protein important?
What do your fingernails, your hair and the scrambled eggs you had for breakfast have in common? The answer: They all contain a lot of protein. Protein is found in all animal products, and it is essential to your life because it's part of every cell in your body.
Proteins are all similar in that they are made up of chains of amino acids; these basic building blocks of proteins are linked together by unique chemical bonds called peptide bonds. So you could take a lock of your hair and a pile of scrambled eggs, and even though they look very different, at their molecular core, they are both simply chains of the amino acids bonded together.
Now, we talked about amino acids being the building blocks of proteins, but we could also say that proteins themselves are building blocks of the body.
And this brings us to the first important function of protein, which is to provide structure. Structural proteins make up integral parts of your body. For example, keratin is a type of protein found in your hair, nails and skin that helps give these structures strength. Inside your body, protein provides structure to every cell. Collagen, which is a structural protein found in various connective tissues, provides the framework for the ligaments that hold your bones together and the tendons that attach muscles to those bones.
Proteins also regulate body processes. For example, enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in the body. Without them, basic activities like breaking down the foods you eat would happen too slowly to support your life. You can think of enzymes as proteins that shift your body processes into high gear, much like your morning coffee gets your day moving along.
Body processes are also influenced by hormones, which are proteins that regulate the activity of cells or organs. Hormones are like chemical messengers that carry an order from one part of your body to another, much like Paul Revere carried the message that the British were coming to the people in his colony. For example, insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar by carrying a message to your body cells about how much sugar is present in your blood.
Protein is essential for the athlete as It repairs broken down and wasted tissue during training. An influx of protein prevents catabolism, and ensures healthy skeletal muscle is maintained on the body!