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Protein ~ [Issue 0999-4]  Wellness Weekly
 Sep 28, 1999 15:08 PDT 

The largest single component in our bodies is water. The next is
protein and the most prevalent protein is collagen. Energy that we
need to function comes from the food we eat and some of which is
stored as body tissues, including body fat. If we take a rational
approach to losing weight by reducing calorie intake and increasing
utilization of energy with exercise, our goal is to go into calorie
deficit and burn body fat. This will thereby lower our Body Mass
Index - and our weight. However, a significant amount of lean body
mass can be used up along with our body fat stores during this period
if we do not eat enough protein to replace that which is used for
energy. We then run the risk of wasting a significant amount of our
own body protein, the major component of our lean body mass. This
includes muscle tissues so important to maintaining strength and
mobility. It also includes critical components of all organs of our
body, including our heart muscle.

Nitrogen balance is a term used by doctors and researchers to
indicate the amount of protein breakdown in the body. All protein, by
definition, contains nitrogen and the amount of protein breakdown we
are experiencing can be determined by measuring the amount of
nitrogen which is excreted in the urine. It is important to maintain
a positive nitrogen balance at all times, ensuring that your body is
maintaining its critical lean body mass and muscle tissue. This is
one of the major reasons that all diets today, including those
intended to promote weight loss, must contain adequate levels of protein.
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