Proteins are essential for building muscle because they serve as building blocks for muscle cells and promote regeneration and growth of muscle fibers. Also known as proteins , macronutrients are made up of amino acids that are used by the body in various combinations and structures to perform specific functions.
During intense training and physical activity, proteins can help maintain muscle mass and increase muscle strength . In addition to their role in muscle building , proteins are also essential for overall health as they are involved in many important bodily functions such as transporting nutrients, regulating metabolic processes and supporting the immune system.
This is why adequate protein intake is so important. In addition to the amount, the distribution of the amino acids also plays a role - i.e. how much of each individual amino acid we consume. Because insufficient intake of essential amino acids can lead to deficiency symptoms.
Vegetable proteins are an important source of protein for vegetarians , vegans and anyone who strives for a varied diet. They're found in a variety of foods, including legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and beans, whole grains , nuts , seeds , and high-protein vegetables like broccoli or spinach. In addition to valuable amino acids, these protein sources also provide fiber , vitamins and minerals , which are important for a balanced diet.
Animal proteins are often considered high-quality protein sources because they contain all the essential amino acids in balanced amounts. They are found in a wide variety of foods such as meat , fish , poultry , eggs , and dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese. Eating animal proteins also provides key nutrients like iron , vitamin B12 , and omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for overall health.
structure of proteins
Proteins are complex molecules made up of smaller units called amino acids . These amino acids join through peptide bonds to form long chains called polypeptides , which then fold into more complex structures to perform their specific function. The structure of a protein can consist of one or more polypeptide chains and the spatial arrangement of these chains determines the biological activity of the protein.
Essential Amino Acids
There are 21 different amino acids in total, 8 of which are considered essential. This means that our body cannot produce them itself, or only to a limited extent, and they have to be ingested through food. Non-essential amino acids, on the other hand, can be produced by yourself. Other amino acids always serve as building blocks, which means that we also need protein for the synthesis of non-essential amino acids.
The essential amino acids also include the BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids). They are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are particularly important for muscle building and post-workout recovery .
In growth phases, with certain diseases or with increased physical stress, the body is dependent on the supply of partially essential amino acids through nutrition.
Isoleucine is one of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are essential for maintaining muscle mass. It is also found in structural proteins of nerves, connective tissue and bones. In addition, isoleucine is an important component of hemoglobin, the red blood pigment that is responsible for transporting oxygen.
Leucine also belongs to the BCAAs and is contained in antibodies, enzymes and transport proteins. Leucine plays an important role in hormonal balance and is involved in insulin secretion in the pancreas.
Lysine is strongly represented in immune system proteins and is important for strong connective tissue as it is involved in collagen formation. A deficiency can lead to brittle nails, skin problems and hair loss.
Methionine is the starting amino acid for proteins and thus the start of protein synthesis. A modified form of methionine, S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), provides the methyl group for DNA methylation, thereby driving epigenetic gene regulation. Methionine is also involved in the synthesis of the stress hormone adrenaline.
Phenylalanine serves as a precursor for molecules involved in stress responses. For example, phenylalanine is needed to produce the neurotransmitters adrenaline and dopamine. In the case of depression and alcohol withdrawal, the need for this amino acid is particularly high.
Threonine is important in uric acid metabolism and involved in collagen formation. It is also a component of glycoproteins that give mucous membranes their typical surface.
Tryptophan has a special role among the essential amino acids. It serves not only as a protein building block, but also for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is known as a "lucky charm". In addition, tryptophan is a precursor of the sleep hormone melatonin and important for vitamin B3 production.
Valine is the third BCAA and serves as a precursor to many neurotransmitters that transmit signals between nerve cells and is therefore important for nerve function. The connective tissue protein elastin is rich in valine.
Semi-essential amino acids
arginine promotes blood circulation and supports the immune system, which is why additional intake through food is necessary under certain conditions.
Histidine plays an important role in tissue growth and repair, so it should be obtained from food during periods of growth or increased physical activity.