What is Protein? A Complete Scientific Guide

Amino acids (building blocks of protein) combine to form proteins, which are molecules that contain nitrogen and found in every cell of our body. They can be made up of one or more extended chains of amino acid residues. Proteins consist of amino acids, which are tiny chemical compounds. They consist of an alpha central carbon atom coupled to an amino group, a carboxyl group, a hydrogen atom, and another component known as a side chain, are the building blocks of proteins.

Proteins are made up of a lengthy chain of amino acids that are connected by peptide bonds. Each of the amino acids has a distinct side chain and sequence that are used to build proteins.

There are in total of twenty amino acids that are discovered. Eleven of these amino acids are classified as non-essential, meaning that human bodies can make them and do not require their consumption from an outer source or diet. The remaining nine amino acids are said to as essential, which means that our diets must contain them, as our bodies cannot synthesize them.

The following are nine essential amino acids

  • Histidine

  • Leucine

  • Isoleucine

  • Valine

  • Lysine

  • Methionine

  • Phenylalanine

  • Threonine

  • Tryptophan

And, the non-essential amino acids are −

  • Alanine

  • Asparagine

  • Aspartic acid

  • Glutamic acid

  • Arginine

  • Cysteine

  • Glutamine

  • Tyrosine

  • Glycine

  • Proline

  • Serine

Six of the eleven remaining nonessential amino acids are conditionally essential amino acids, and only become essential during specific conditions. These are the amino acids that are produced by the body but, due to severe physical stress or trauma, may become depleted. They are arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, proline, and serine.

Why is Protein Essential for the Human Body?

Protein is a complex substance that is available in all living life forms. Any diet must have protein as a staple. Numerous foods include protein thus, many people can easily incorporate it into their diet. And foods contain much more than just protein, so it's crucial to consider the other ingredients as well. Protein sources in food are typically obtained from either animal or plant sources.

There is a widespread misconception that certain necessary amino acids are actually absent from plant-based proteins. In reality, the majority of plant-based proteins include all amino acids, but they frequently have a low concentration of a few important amino acids, sometimes known as their limiting amino acids. It is crucial for people who eat little to no animal products, like vegans or vegetarians, to acquire their protein from sources that include complementary limiting amino acids.

Protein and sports performance have long been linked. After exercise, protein intake can help in strengthening and repairing muscle tissue. The appropriate combination of carbs, lipids, vitamins, and minerals should be included in the diet to get the benefits of protein, which is essential for developing muscle.

Despite the fact that protein is typically good for you, many people can overeat it. People are aware of the advantages of protein and believe that intake of a larger amount of protein won't do any damage. The problem is that the body doesn’t know what to do with the excess amounts of protein, and it could end up harming the bones, kidneys, and liver, and increase the amount of calcium in the bloodstream.

Uses of Proteins in Our Body

Although proteins can be used as a source of energy, they are not utilized until other macromolecules are broken down completely. Proteins are broken down into their most basic form, amino acids, in order to be utilized by the body. They are used in the formation of hemoglobin, enzymes, and hormones. They act as the primary structural element of the body's muscles and other tissues.

Furthermore, proteins also help in molecular transportation across the body, assisting in cell growth and repair, defending the body against germs and viruses, and fostering healthy growth and development in people. Proteins are of extraordinary health benefits and directly help in chemical processes and metabolic cycles occurring in our body.

Research has shown that not getting enough protein or not being able to utilize it effectively can cause numerous symptoms, such as an increase in infections, swelling of legs, a slower rate of wound healing, and decreased muscle mass, which is sometimes referred to as sarcopenia in older individuals can result from a protein deficiency.

It's vital to note that food insecurity causes millions of people around the world, particularly young children, to lack adequate amounts of protein. Severe Malnutrition (Kwashiorkor) and protein deficiency have a variety of serious consequences, including stunted growth, loss of muscle mass, weakened immune systems, heart and respiratory system problems, and even death.


Protein-rich diets, like the carnivore diet, can also be harmful and increase the risk of coronary heart disease, kidney stones, and breast, bowel, and prostate cancers. While food that is rich in protein is beneficial to our health, some generate more harm than good.

Particularly, eating a lot of red and processed meat has been linked to a higher risk of developing several malignancies. However, it is also a good source of protein and many other vital elements, like iron, vitamin B12, and zinc, so it's not necessary to eliminate it instead consume it in moderate amounts.

Food allergies can develop when the immune system of the body attacks certain kinds of proteins. You will experience an allergic reaction, such as itching or breathing difficulties, when you eat or drink something like peanuts, eggs, or fish, containing a protein to which you are allergic.