Types of Protein in Your Diet

Consuming protein helps your body build strength, repair tissue, regulate your hormones, and oxygenate your blood. Protein is an incredibly beneficial macronutrient that is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. 

Are you aware of the types of proteins you regularly consume? This informative blog post will discuss the different types of protein, where these proteins are derived, and how they benefit your body. 

First Thing’s First: What Is Protein?

According to the National Library of Medicine’s Medicine Plus website, protein can be described as the building blocks of life. Why? Because every single cell in the human body contains protein. 

Proteins are made up of amino acids. When you eat a piece of grilled chicken, for instance, the digestion process involves turning the chicken into what we call essential amino acids. An essential amino acid cannot be made by the body; therefore, this type of amino acid can be sourced only from food. 

The body relies on essential amino acids in order to function properly. Without consuming a proper amount of protein, you risk losing muscle mass, which can make you feel weak, tired, and even lead to a condition called anemia. 

Protein-Rich Foods

Before we proceed any further, let’s dispel a common myth: you can only get protein from meats and seafood such as chicken, turkey, and fish. Not true! While animal products do serve as an excellent source of protein, it’s important to know that protein can also be found in many other types of foods, including beans and legumes.

Foods that contain high levels of protein include chicken, eggs, salmon, peanut butter, cottage cheese, lentils, black beans, and chick peas, just to name a few. 

Remember, you can find your protein from both animal and plant sources.

The Eight Types of Proteins

Believe it or not, there are eight types of protein in your body, and all of these types work in concert to help you stay strong and healthy.

  1. Contractile: The purpose of the contractile protein is to regulate the movements of your heart and muscles. 
  2. Defensive: This type of protein keeps your immune system strong and helps defend against diseases and infections.
  3. Enzymatic: Enzymatic protein aids your digestive system by accelerating the metabolic processes occurring within your cells. 
  4. Hormonal: Hormonal protein enables the cells in your body to communicate with each other. An example of a hormonal protein is insulin—the hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates your body’s blood sugar levels.
  5. Receptor: Think of receptor proteins as your cells’ security guards; these proteins control all the substances that enter and exit your cells. 
  6. Storage: The storage protein is responsible for storing mineral ions. One example of a mineral ion is iron, which forms hemoglobin—a necessary component in your red blood cells. 
  7. Structural: This type of protein is fibrous in that it creates the framework necessary for healthy bones, muscles, tendons, skin, and cartilage. Collagen, elastin, and keratin are examples of structural proteins. 
  8. Transport: Rounding out the list is the transport protein—the protein that delivers important materials (such as hemoglobin) to your cells.

These eight proteins play an essential role in your overall health and wellness. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your body is receiving an ample amount of protein every day. Simply put, your cells depend on it. 

Recommended Protein Intake

Your protein intake should consist of between 10-35% of your daily caloric needs. If you follow a 2,000 calorie diet, for example, you should strive to eat approximately 400 calories of protein per day. In general, one ounce of beef, chicken, turkey, pork, or lamb supplies approximately 7 grams of protein. A half a cup of lentils provides 9 grams of protein. 

Johns Hopkins Medicine has compiled an informative guide called Protein Content of Common Foods. This chart can come in handy while preparing your meals. You may also wish to consider consulting the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) calculator, which can give you an estimate of how much protein you should consume based on your gender, height, weight, and activity level. Make an appointment with a registered dietitian for custom recommendations based on your health goals, lifestyle and any chronic conditions. Firelands Center for Coordinated Care Weight Management and Nutrition Clinic have registered dieticians on site to help assist patients with their dietary needs.  Call 419-557-6550 or visit www.firelands.com/coordinatedcare

A Final Note About Consuming Protein

It’s beneficial to eat an adequate amount of protein so that you can maintain optimal health both now and in the future. 

For more information about protein and choosing healthy proteins, check out this blog: https://www.firelands.com/blog/power-protein