What are Proteins exactly?

You probably know you need to eat protein, but what is it exactly?

Protein can be found in fish Many foods contain protein like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, tofu and beans.

Our muscles, organs and immune system are made up mostly of proteins. Our bodies use protein to make hemoglobin, the red part of our blood cells that carries oxygen to every part of our body. Proteins also help build new cells and maintain tissues.

A large part of the protein you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which are specialized worker proteins that do specific jobs, such as digest food and make new cells.

Mr. Protein to the rescue Eating protein rich food gives our body certain essential building blocks, or amino acids, that our body cannot get any other way. Protein is like a long freight train and the individual cars are amino acids. The various combinations of amino acids determines the type of protein.

There are two types of protein: animal and plant. However, there are about 20 amino acids, divided between essential amino acids and non-essential ones. Essential means the body cannot make them and must obtain them from a food source.

As a general rule, between 10 percent and 15 percent of your total calories should come from protein. So, if you consume 2,000 calories per day, at least 200 should come from protein, or about 50 grams.