What is protein and why is it important?

A woman standing at a kitchen counter holds a child while making a fruit smoothie using Nutrilite All Plant Protein Powder.

So, what is protein exactly? For athletes, it’s how they build muscle and recover from workouts. For scientists and doctors, it’s the basic building block of our bodies. For everyone, it’s an essential part of a healthy diet.

Just like other vitamins and minerals, your body needs protein in order to function. Our bodies don’t store protein, so we have to constantly get it through food sources. There are a lot of ways to incorporate protein in your diet and there are a lot of protein sources to choose from, but not all proteins are created equal.

What is protein and what does it do?

Protein is one of three macronutrients that provides your body with energy, the other two being fats and carbohydrates. Found all throughout the body, protein plays a key role in creating and maintaining cells. It’s in our hair, skin and virtually all of our other body parts and tissue. It helps our blood carry oxygen, aids in the digestive process and famously helps build muscle.

A man swings battle ropes up and down for a workout. A package of XS Protein Pods sits nearby.

Why is protein important?

Protein is made up of twenty-plus amino acids, which are the building blocks of the body. The body can make certain amino acids itself or modify others from food, but it can’t store them. Nine essential amino acids our bodies need come only from food sources, which is why it’s important to consume enough protein every day.

Not only does protein help your body build muscle and recover from workouts, it also helps control your appetite because it makes you feel fuller longer versus foods high in fats or carbs. Think about that the next time you want to grab a bag of greasy potato chips!

A man in a kitchen adds Nutrilite All Plant Protein Powder to his breakfast bowl.

What are good sources of protein?

Protein is commonly found in animal products like meat, eggs and dairy, as well as plant-based sources like nuts and legumes. Animal-based proteins are considered complete proteins; they contain all nine of the essential amino acids your body needs to function.

Plant-based proteins tend to have fewer amino acids per individual source, but you can easily compensate for that by eating a variety of them. You could also add a protein powder that combines several sources of plant-based proteins, like Nutrilite™ All Plant Protein Powder, for a wider spectrum of amino acids.

Foods like red meat and processed meat products may be loaded with protein, but they aren’t the healthiest choice for your heart — or the planet. Health experts recommend getting your protein from plants whenever possible, which is easy to do considering the wide range of plant-based protein sources available, like peas, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds (to name a few).

A man who just got done with a bike ride, sits in the open back of his car shaking a water bottle to mix up a chocolate flavored XS Protein Pod. His bike is leaning against the car.

Whey protein versus plant protein

If you’ve looked at protein supplements before, you know whey protein and plant protein are the two main contenders on the market. But what’s the difference between the two?

While plant protein obviously comes from plants, whey protein is animal-based — it comes from milk. Because whey protein is an animal-based protein, it typically contains more amino acids on its own than a plant-based protein from a single source.

And because it’s a dairy byproduct, some people (especially those who are lactose intolerant) find it difficult to digest. Luckily, whey protein supplements like XS™ Protein Pods are lactose free, so even the dairy-averse can get the benefits of whey protein in their diets.

Plant-based protein products are often made from peas, seeds or rice and are usually easier on the digestive system. If you choose plant protein over whey, make sure to choose a plant-based protein supplement that combines several plant-based sources so you get a more diverse range of amino acids.

Learn more

Whether you choose plant-based or animal-based, whey powder or pea powder, make sure you’re getting the right amount of protein from healthy sources. Protein is the building block of the body, so it’s important to start with the right protein source to give your body the tools it needs for optimal health.

To read more information and tips for healthy living, check out our other blogs at Amway Connections.


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