What Is Protein? Why Is It So Important?

Proteins are the building blocks of life. They are large complex molecules made up of about 20 amino acids. Nine of them are essential to us.

Protein is an important macronutrient, needed for the entire body to function properly.

Adequate intake of protein is essential. Some benefits of consuming protein are by preventing loss of muscle mass and strength, frailty, and potentially avoiding comorbidities later in life.

It is also essential for health, growth, development, reproduction, and lactation.

Table of Contents

Protein Comes From Amino Acids

Proteins are large, complex macronutrients that play many critical roles in the body.

They are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. (source )

Protein is made up of about 20 amino acids. Nine of them are essential, which means that we must get them regularly through food because the body cannot produce them. (source )

The main components of proteins are carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.

What Proteins Do

Proteins are one of the most important components of living organisms, and are involved in a wide range of biological processes.

They perform various important functions such as energy transfer, transport of substances, binding to other proteins, and catalysis.

Protein Are Important For The Entire Body

Protein exists in all the body's tissue cells. Also, hormones, enzymes, and important components of the immune system consist of proteins.

Protein is therefore important for your entire body's function. (source )

Adequate intake of protein is essential.

It is one of the key nutritional factors to maintain independence by preventing loss of muscle mass and strength, frailty, and associated comorbidities later in life. (source )

Research has shown that older adults need more dietary protein than younger adults to support good health, promote recovery from illness, and maintain functionality. (source )

You can find some benefits you might get from consuming an adequate amount of protein in Protein: 6 Research-Backed Benefits .

Plant Proteins

Plant proteins are proteins that are naturally produced by plants, in particular by seeds, such as leguminous plants, oil-seed plants, or cereal grains.

Plant proteins have been said to be incomplete. It is because of insufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

Both digestibility and bioavailability of plant proteins are lower than those from animal sources. (source )

Protein For Weight-Loss

High protein diets are an effective weight-loss strategy for overweight and obese persons by reducing hunger.

Most trials in overweight and obese adults have been done with animal proteins.

It is still unclear if the consumption of plant proteins has a similar effect on appetite. (source )

Foods You Can Find Protein In

You find protein mostly in legumes, meats, dairy, and eggs.

Examples of food sources include

Foods in our nutrition tool

You can access regularly updated, top ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool.

If you are interested in what foods contain the most protein, we recommend you use our tool.

Here's our top ranked list of foods that contain protein.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

Author Image of Sara Niemelä

Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.