Protein is a major structural and functional component of tissue and is necessary for repair. Dietary protein is required for tissue repair, growth and for a variety of metabolic activities.
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Tissue repair involves four phases: haemostasis, inflammation, repair, and remodeling. Furthermore, adequate protein intake has three important roles in this process: promoting wound healing, maintenance of tissue integrity, and swift recovery.
Importance of Protein
Protein is one of the most important factors affecting tissue repair. A deficiency in protein can impair capillary formation, fibroblast proliferation, proteoglycan synthesis, collagen synthesis, and wound remodeling. A protein deficiency also affects the immune system resulting in decreased white blood cells and an increased susceptibility to infection.
Protein for Exercise and Recovery
Protein is required to promote growth, repair damaged cells, and synthesize hormones. It can come from a variety of sources, but animal sources provide the essential amino acids and are considered complete proteins. There are multiple studies showing that those who engage in exercise require more dietary protein than sedentary individuals. Furthermore, evidence indicates that ingesting protein prior to or after exercise can enhance recovery, immune function, along with growth and maintenance of lean body mass.
Required Protein Intake
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8g per kg of body weight, per day. This is designed to maintain nitrogen balance in the body for an average adult, which is important for maintenance of organs and tissue. However, physical activity increases protein needs. The general consensus among dietitians is that athletes should consume 1.2 - 1.8 grams per kg of body weight, per day.