Muscles are made of protein. This statement is rather obvious to all of us. So to build muscle, equally obviously, you need to take proteins. This can be found in egg whites, meat or artificial protein concentrates like protein powder.
To appreciate the import of proteins in your body, you have to understand that your body cells are constantly being replaced by new ones every instant. The tissue, which is made of protein, is constantly being turned over as old cells die and new ones are synthesized as first to replace them. Dr. Deepak Chopra, best-selling author and mind and body expert, describes it as follows:
“It is as if you lived in a building whose bricks were systematically taken out and replaced every year. If you keep the same blueprint then it will still look like the same building. But it won’t be the same in actuality. The human body also stands there, looking much the same from day to day, but through the process of respiration, digestion, elimination and so forth, it is constantly and ever in exchange with the rest of the world.”
Science has proven that 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced within one year. Every cell in your body is always being recycled. And the new cells come from the proteins that you eat. It is the building blocks of your body much like bricks build a building. From the skin to hair to bones to hormones and antibodies protein is instrumental in their development. Save for water, protein is the most abundant substance in your body.
Like other nutrients, proteins are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. But unlike other nutrients, proteins are the only nutrients that bring nitrogen into the body. Thus by measuring the amount of nitrogen in ones excreta, compared to the amount ingested, bodybuilding peptides one can estimate the amount of protein used for muscle growth. If the difference is positive, then muscle is being made. But if the difference is negative, that is a negative nitrogen balance, and then body tissue, including muscle, is being oxidized to produce energy.
Proteins are broken down by digestive acids like protease to smaller units called peptides. This occurs in the stomach where there are acidic conditions necessary for the digestion of proteins. The peptides are in turn are digested by peptidase, found in the duodenum, into amino acids. These are what the body actually absorbs and utilizes to form body tissue, including muscle.
There are 20 amino acids that are required for the normal growth of the body. Eleven of these are naturally made in the body and thus are called non-essential amino acids. The other nine have to be ingested into the body as it cannot synthesize them and are thus called essential amino acids.