There are approximately 640 different skeletal muscles in your body, all of which have different roles in stabilizing and moving your skeletal system. Each time you train to increase your body’s strength and endurance, you are actually damaging and repairing pre-existing muscles cells, so that they can become more powerful and resilient.
Each muscle in your body is formed from a string of muscle fibres which are also known as muscle cells. These muscle cells are predominantly formed from two different proteins; myosin and actin.
This is why proteins make up a large portion of your body’s structure, and why having protein in your diet is so important. The protein we eat is formed from chains of amino acids that have been bonded together and it is these amino acids that are often referred to as the ‘building blocks of life’. In order to build, repair and maintain existing muscle cells your body needs to have a regular supply of amino acids to use as material.
There are 20 amino acids within the body, 11 of which we synthesize ourselves, and 9 of which need to be gained from the food we eat. These are referred to as the 9 essential amino acids. Some protein sources, such as red meats, poultry, fish, eggs and most dairy and soy products, contain all 9 essential amino acids. Other sources of protein, such as legumes, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits, only contain some of the amino acids.
Don’t worry if you are a vegan though, you can combine different incomplete protein sources together to ensure you are getting all 9 essential amino acids. For example hummus, which is made from both chickpeas and sesame paste (tahini) is an excellent protein source that provides you with all 9 essential amino acids. You don’t even need to have all 9 amino acids in one meal, just as long as you eat them all in the same day.
Protein plays such an important role in everyone’s diet, especially for people who regularly exercise and want to increase their muscle strength, definition and endurance.
As I have always said, everyone is different. For me personally I enjoy a balanced diet rich in proteins, good fats and fresh fruit and vegetables, because this is what works best for me. However it doesn’t matter who you are, unless you have a very specific intolerance, protein should be a part of every balanced diet.