Proteins are the building blocks of your entire body. They help build all of your muscle tissue, organs, hormones, etc. and they are made up of 23 proteinogenic (protein-building) amino acids. These amino acids are divided into two categories, essential and non-essential. Non-essential amino acids are created by your body where as essential amino acids are only found in food sources.
There are 9 essential amino acids, they can be found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, grains, legumes and nuts. Food sources containing less than the 9 are considered incomplete proteins where as food sources containing all 9 are considered complete. Foods such as grains, legumes and most vegetation are all incomplete proteins with the exception of 2; soy beans and quinoa. When you digest a food with incomplete protein your body will store those amino acids until you consume the remaining few it needs to build a complete protein.
In a balanced diet you should be consuming protein in every one of your 5-6 meals each day. For women, a palm sized portion of protein while men should have twice as much. A good rule of thumb for those who are trying to build muscle is to eat 1g of protein for each pound of lean mass that you weigh. A simple strategy for a balanced diet is to make sure you are eating whole proteins in each meal. This will be sure to help you reach your daily quota.
Written by: Timothy Khanoyan