Everyone knows you need it, especially if you are trying to build up your muscles, but what exactly is protein, how much do you need, and where is the best place to get it?

Well, each protein is a chain of amino acids that twists itself into a specific custom shape. Depending on the shape it can become a part of muscle tissue, bones, skin, an enzyme, etc. The specific shape depends on the sequence of amino acids.
Wow! So these amino acids are the really important part. What are they?
Amino acids are organic compounds that have nitrous and carboxyl anchors and chains of other atoms in varying shapes. There are about 64 types with varying degrees of complexity. 8 of them are very basic that our cells can use to make the others, but can't produce on our own. Recent research shows there is a ninth that we can't produce in large quantities.

Oh. So there's only about 8 or nine that we have to get from food right? What foods do we need to eat to get those?

Well if you want all 8-9 at once you can eat soy or meat products. For a lot more variety you can get 4 of them from grains like wheat(flour, bread, cake, ect.), rice, corn, oats(oatmeal, oatmeal cookies), buckwheat(pancakes, muffins, noodles), and other grass seeds. You can get the other 4-5 from legumes like beans(red, black, pinto, lima, etc.), peas, or peanuts.

Okay, so it's not that hard to find. Now how much do we need?

The recommended daily value for four year old children to adults from the department of agriculture is 50 grams(a little under 2 ounces). That amount is enough to support a growing body through a lot of physical activity. You can get 12 grams from a cup of all purpose flour; 2 medium eggs; or 3 slices of whole wheat bread. 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter; about a third of a can of spam(about 2 ounces); or 1/2 cup of cooked kidney beans gives you 7 grams.

What happens if I get too much or too little?

If you're very active and don't get enough protein, recovering from injuries or muscle stains will take longer. If you're not a growing kid anymore and not very active, excess protein will be broken down and converted into sugar and fat with ammonia or uric acid as waste products. If these build up in your system it can lead to gout and other rheumatic complaints.

Do I have to eat 50 grams of protein every day?!

Not necessarily. The protein you take in today will still be in your system tomorrow and the next day and can be recycled from your body tissues. As long as you don't go too long without stocking up.

For more information on dieting and other techniques; check out:
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