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What are Proteins?

Looking for protein facts? Before we give you the list, let’s understand what are proteins and why we need them. Proteins are macronutrients required by every cell in the body.

Proteins helps in building as well as repairing body tissues and cells. Bones, muscles, hair, skin – everything needs proteins.

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which function as the building blocks of cells. A wide range of foods that we consume include proteins. For instance, you can find proteins in eggs, meat, poultry, legumes, fish, various dairy products, etc.

We need protein. It is essential for our survival… blah, blah, blah… we have heard a lot about these stuff. The question however is; how much do we really know about proteins?

In case you know, you did a great job! In case you didn’t know, don’t be disheartened. Here is your chance to learn amazing protein facts.

As a matter of fact, everyone should be aware of these protein facts so that they can make informed decisions about their diets. So, feel free to share these facts with those who you care about.

Protein Facts: 1-5

1. Protein is the building block of human body. What does that mean? There are trillions of cells in a human body. Every single cell contains protein. Without protein, we cannot exist at all.

2. Protein is the second-most abundant substance in our body. The first spot is taken by water. In case you didn’t know, water makes about 70% of human body weight. Protein makes up another 18% to 20%. The remaining 10% or 12% is everything else combined.

3. There are three major energy sources for our body. One of them is protein. The other two is fats and carbohydrates.

4. Protein is called a macronutrient. Any nutrient that gives energy or calories to our body is known as macronutrient. This means fat and carbohydrates are macronutrients too because they give us calories.

5. 1 gram of protein gives us 4 kilocalories. Same is the case with carbohydrates. In case of fats however, it is more than twice. 1 gram of fat gives 9 kilocalories.

Protein Facts: 6-10

6. Proteios – the Greek word is the source for the word Protein. Proteios means ‘holding the first position’ or ‘primary’ or ‘first’.

7. Do you know how many types of proteins are there in human body? About 100,000. Almost all chemical reactions that take place in a human body requires protein. Apart from that, human body requires protein in order to grow as well as heal.

8. There are various shapes and sizes of proteins found in our body. However, the simplest of proteins are very much like trains. There are separate cars. Each car is linked with another using chains that are known as peptide bonds.

9. Each car in a protein chain (train) is known as amino acid. There are 20 different amino acids. These are basically chemicals. These 20 amino acids amino acids join together in different ways or combinations to form different types of proteins. So, every single type of protein you find in a human body will be made up of amino acids.

10. Talking of amino acids, what precisely are they? Amino acids are compounds, basically organic by nature. This means that these compounds have carbon in them.

Protein Facts: 11-15

11. When we eat any protein, for example meat or egg, the protein is broken down into amino acids by the digestive system. These amino acids are then used for a multitude of bodily functions like body tissue repairing, body growth and breaking down of other food items. They also function as the energy source for our body

12. There are basically three broad categories of amino acids – essential, non-essential and conditional.

13. Essential amino acids are those that our body cannot produce but are needed for various important functions. These amino acids can be obtained only from external food sources. There are 9 essential amino acids.

14. The nine essential amino acids include valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine and histidine.

15. Non-essential amino acids are those that our body can produce on its own. There is no need to look out for external protein sources to get those amino acids. They include glutamic acid, aspartic acid, asparagine and alanine.

Protein Facts: 16-20

16. Conditional amino acids are those that become essential only when we are very stressed or ill. These amino acids include serine, proline, ornithine, glycine, tyrosine, glutamine, cysteine and arginine.

17. Protein has a life span of just 2 days or less than that.

18. Plant-based proteins may not contain all essential amino acids however, they are still, at times, considered better than animal protein because they have high fiber content, no cholesterol and less fat.

19. Do you think only fats are responsible for making you overweight? Think again! Even protein can make you overweight if you consume more than what is required by your body. The unused protein will then be stored in the body in form of fat especially in hips and belly areas.

20. Just the way overeating protein is not good, protein deficiency in body is also not good. Especially in case of children, protein deficiency can lead to a disease known as Kwashiorkor.

Protein Facts: 21-25

21. What exactly is Kwashiorkor? This is a condition where hair becomes thin, the belly protrudes out, skin color fades and overall weight loss takes place. This requires proper treatment. In case of improper treatment, it can lead to stunted growth. Mental disorders also set in and in worst cases, it can lead to death.

22. Proteins in our body can mutate and lead to some serious health issues. For instance, there is a protein which goes by the name Shank3. In case this protein mutates, neurons’ connections get disrupted and thereby increases the chances of autism.

23. Any error in protein function can lead to several problems. For instance, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease can be caused by errors in protein function.

24. Such errors can also lead to a disease known as CJD or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. In this disease, brain starts degenerating and eventually takes the shape of a porous sponge.

25. There is a special type of protein known as albumin. In the absence of this protein, human body will swell because of fluids. Albumin levels are usually low in people who kidney diseases or people with excessive burns or people suffering of over-hydration. Over-hydration is a pathological condition in which water accumulates in the body.

Protein Facts: 26-30

26. Semen contains proteins. Typically, 150 mg of protein is found in a single ejaculation (which is about one tablespoon full of semen).

27. One more thing you need to know about protein found in semen. It acts on the female brain and stimulates a female body for prompt ovulation.

28. When protein denaturation takes place in lenses of our eyes, it leads to formation of cataracts.

29. If a protein contains all nine essential amino acids, it is known as a whole protein or complete protein. Complete protein usually comes from animal sources like egg, chicken, beef, fish and several dairy products.

30. If all 9 essential amino acids are not present in a protein, it is known as incomplete protein. Incomplete protein comes from plant sources like vegetables and nuts.

Protein Facts: 31-35

31. We all know that hair is made up of keratin – a type of protein. What most of us do not know is that the keratin makes up a helical shape.

32. Even weirder, the keratin that makes up our hair has sulfur bonds. The greater the number of bonds in the helical shape, the curlier the hair is.

33. Cheese has protein. Of all forms of cheese, the one known as Parmesan cheese has highest protein content. There are about 41.6 grams of proteins in every 100 grams of Parmesan cheese.

34. Insects are better when it comes to protein and fat content. Let us assume that you eat sirloin beef and your buddy eats grasshopper – 100 grams for each of you. Guess who wins? Your buddy! Because, 100 grams of grasshopper will deliver 20 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat. You on the other hand will get 29 grams of protein (which is of course more) but you will also get 21 grams of fat (which is more than 3 times what your friend gets).

35. Of all protein sources, the highest quality of protein comes from eggs.

Protein Facts: 36-40

36. There was a time when of all animal meat, cow meat was consumed most. Today, pigs lead the race.

37. You really think beef is high in protein? Think again. Chickens or poultry beat cows or beef in terms of protein content.

38. Farming insects for protein is more environment-friendly than livestock because the greenhouse gases released by insects in 10 times less than that of livestock.

39. Do you know where the retinal protein Pikachurin gets its name from? It gets the name from Pikachu – a Pokemon character.

40. If that wasn’t surprising enough for you, you should know that there is a protein which is known as Sonic Hedgehog. Now you can guess where the name comes from.

Protein Facts: 41-45

41. Not surprised yet? How about Ranasmurfin? It is a blue protein which is named after the popular Smurfs!

42. Did you know that India has lowest meat consumption per capita despite the fact that it is second largest country in terms of population? Meat consumption in India is only 7 pounds per person per year.

43. After India, the second lowest meat consuming country is Bangladesh where each person eats about 9 lbs. of meat per year on an average. The third position is taken by Democratic Republic of Congo with 10 lbs. of meat consumptions per capita.

44. The highest meat consumption per capita is in Luxemburg where people eat about 300 lbs. of meat per capita annually. USA takes the second position with 276 lbs. per capita and Austria takes the third position with 267 lbs. per capita.

45. In case you are a fish lover and want to derive most of your protein requirements from fish then here is the list of fish with highest protein content:

Fish TypeProtein Content Per 100 Gram of Serving
Yellowfin Tuna30 grams
Anchovies29 grams
Salmon27 grams
Halibut27 grams
Snapper26 grams
Tilapia26 grams

Protein Facts: 46-50

46. Eating excessive protein can lead to weight gain but more importantly eating excessive protein than required will actually put immense pressure on kidneys and liver because these organs will have to work harder to break down the extra protein. The broken down protein will then be stored into body as fat because it won’t be required by body.

47. We said in our previous article that macronutrients are the ones that give us calories but they are also the ones that are required in large quantities by our body. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are all macronutrients.

48. Interestingly alcohol also gives us calories but it is not a macronutrient because our body doesn’t need it for survival. We can live healthy and happy without ever consuming a single drop of it.

49. The question is why do we need proteins? Because it is required for synthesis of bone cells, production of RBC or red blood cells, maintaining organ functions, maintaining acidity balance, production of hormones and enzymes, maintaining flexibility, maintaining antibody immune function and more.

50. It is really not necessary to get all essential amino acids from a single meal. You should get all amino acids in entire day. If some essential amino acids enter your body with breakfast, some with lunch and some with dinner, it is just fine.


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