Whether you identify as a health nut or not, the notion that protein is an important part of a healthy diet might seem pretty obvious. The “why” of that, however? Maybe not so much.
It doesn’t help that there are a lot of misconceptions about protein intake—like the idea that only really athletic people need to be cognizant of how much they’re consuming, or that calculating your appropriate protein intake comes down to a simple body weight equation. The reality? We all have important protein needs just to support our body’s daily functions, and the kind of protein we consume plays an important role in how our body uses it.
Still with us? Let’s go deeper.
Our bodies need protein to function.
Let’s start with a quick refresher course. We all need a balance of macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals to function. As the names imply, we need macronutrients in larger amounts, and micronutrients in much smaller amounts. But both macronutrients and micronutrients are integral to the way our bodies function on a daily basis.
Now let’s get specific about protein. Every cell in the body contains protein, and protein is a key player in many body functions—from bone support to muscle building. To break it down even further, protein is composed of building blocks called amino acids, which help carry out these vital processes. (1)