Different Types of Proteins Explained

Whether you’re adding more protein to your diet to rev up your metabolism, recover from workouts, or just for balance, you should be familiar with all the different types of protein. Protein is an essential part of any balanced diet, offering multiple health benefits. It helps your body build and maintain muscle, and it aids the immune system, helping the body make antibodies to fight off infections and other diseases. There are seven different types of protein, each responsible for different functions. 

7 Types of Protein Your Body Needs

Proteins are composed of amino acids that function differently within your body. Protein molecules are complex and intricate. Each protein contributes to chemical reactions that allow your body to work correctly. Adding protein to the human diet helps provide your body with essential amino acids. All proteins fall into seven categories.  


Antibodies are produced by your immune system and help protect you from foreign materials. When you’re exposed to a virus or bacteria through the air, a cut, or another means, your immune system makes antibodies to fight off the substance. 

They work by recognizing foreign substances, binding with them, and removing them from your body. When you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, sleeping regularly, and managing your stress, your immune system usually works quickly to find and eliminate diseases and bacteria. 

However, if you’re stressed out, not sleeping, or already sick, your immune system might weaken. Combining protein with vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals may help bolster your immune system

Contractile Proteins

A contractile protein helps certain cells in your body contract during various parts of the cell cycle. Two critical contractile proteins are myosin and actin, which make up myofilaments in your cells and help regulate muscle contractions. Contractile proteins are a crucial part of your heart and muscle function.  

Contractile proteins make up the bulk of your muscles, and their concentration changes when you start resistance training and altering your diet. They’re also present in your pancreas, brain, liver, and other organs, aiding in cell mitosis and other functions. 


Enzymes are proteins that impact chemical reactions within your body. They are involved in digestion, metabolism, and excretion, among other functions. Your body contains multiple types of enzymes, each with a specific job. For example, lactase is an enzyme that breaks down the protein in milk products. If you’re lactose intolerant, your body doesn’t produce enough lactase to properly break down the lactose found within these products. 

Enzymes are also involved in breathing, muscle growth and development, and nerve function, among others. Some people with enzyme deficiencies can use replacement therapy to help their bodies digest food, but you need a diagnosis and a prescription. 

Hormonal Proteins

Produced by the endocrine system in the pancreas, the thyroid, and other glands, hormonal proteins regulate various bodily functions, including growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Some well-known hormonal proteins are growth hormone, insulin, and oxytocin. Your body makes multiple hormonal proteins that can impact your health when they’re not working correctly. 

Insulin is produced in the pancreas and helps the body process blood glucose. When your body isn’t producing enough insulin or is not using it properly, it can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, as well as diabetes.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone is produced in the thyroid and helps regulate your metabolism. If your thyroid is overactive, it makes too much of this hormone, which can lead to insomnia and weight loss among other issues. If it’s underactive, your metabolism slows and you may feel sluggish.  

Structural Proteins

Structural proteins give cells their shape and movement, and they support your skeletal system, cartilage, hair, muscles, and skin. Well-known structural proteins such as collagen and keratin help improve your skin, hair, and nails. 

Collagen helps make your skin stronger and more resistant to stretching. Your body doesn’t produce as much as you age, which is why your skin tends to sag and wrinkle as you get older. Some foods can help your body improve collagen production. 

Storage Proteins

Some organisms store metal ions and amino acids for later use which are reserved in storage proteins.  They are commonly found in plants, seeds, roots, and shoot tubers, helping plants grow and develop. The human body cannot produce storage proteins.

Storage proteins are common in lentils, legumes, and seeds. For the most part, they are harmless, but studies indicate that these proteins may be a source of food allergies in people who experience reactions to foods like soy and lentils. 

Transport Proteins

Transport proteins help nutrients, neurotransmitters, ions, and other substances cross cell membranes. Without them, your body would cease to function properly. Malfunctioning transport proteins have been linked to common diseases such as autism, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, and depression.  

Each transport protein pairs with a different molecule, effectively moving it from one cell to another. These proteins can easily transfer water and other small molecules in between cells, or they may have to move larger molecules like glucose through a binding site. 

How to Incorporate Protein Into Your Diet

Protein is an essential part of your diet, giving your body the building blocks it needs to function. However, some sources of protein are also high in fat, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Opt for high-quality protein from plants, lean meats, and fish. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, check out plant-based protein sources like tofu, soy, and legumes. You can get omega-3 fatty acids from seaweed and algae. 

You may not think of mac and cheese as a healthy protein food, but with Muscle Mac, you can satisfy your craving for comfort food without compromising your healthy lifestyle. Each serving offers 20 grams of protein from dairy and vegetables such as pea protein.

Muscle Mac helps aid in muscle growth and recovery. It’s also filling, so you won’t have to eat a lot to satisfy your craving. It offers 40% of your daily protein in a rich and creamy snack. Find it near you and add it to your pantry today.