How Important is Protein in our diet?

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Food gives us nutrients. The nutrients which we consume daily in large quantities are known as macronutrients. The 3 types of macronutrients that our body needs are

  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Proteins

In this article of Certified Fitness and Nutrition Consultant Pallavi Narayana will be discussing about Proteins today.

What is Protein?

Protein is the essential macronutrient that every cell in our body needs.

Every cell in the human body contains protein. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids. You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.

It provides the raw materials for muscle growth and repair cells and tissue. It is a major component of the bone, muscle, skin, organs, hair and nails.

Functions Of Proteins | 5 Main Functions, What, Where & How
Protein Types and Function

Protein is made up small compounds called amino acids. Our body can produce most of the amino acids but there are 9 amino acids that we cannot produce. These amino acids are called essential amino acids.

The essential amino acids need to come from our diet.

How much protein do you need?

The recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for protein is 0.8 gm per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight a day for adults above 18 years. Protein Range varies from 0.8 to 2.2 gm/Kg based on age, gender, activity levels and health condition.

Indian Diet and Protein

Low protein intake is a major issue of Indian Diets. It’s not rare to see people eating as low as 0.3 -0.5 gm protein /kg in our primarily vegetarian diet. Indian meal preparation generally revolves around carbohydrates source (rice, wheat, etc).

So, the need of the hour is to start thinking differently and try to include some protein source in each meal. 

Food Sources of protein

All food contains different combinations of amino acids. Both plant and animal sources provide good source of protein. In general animal protein contains all essential amino acids. While many plants provide protein, however, most do not provide all of the essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins from foods like beans, grains and nuts are rich in some amino acids but lack others. A well-balanced diet with a variety of foods can provide sufficient protein for the body’s needs.

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, quinoa, and soybeans are all good sources of complete protein – which means they provide all nine essential amino acids.

Since there are fewer good protein sources in veg diet, here are some tips to add protein to vegetarian Indian diet.

Vegetarian Protein Sources
  • Roti is a staple in most households. Add besan/soya to wheat flour and make the Roti to increase the protein content.
  • Include various pulses like beans, lentils, peas in your daily diet.
  • Include Dairy products like paneer, cheese, milk, curd.
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Keep Sprouts handy. Make chats or salad out of sprouts and enjoy healthy protein rich snack.

Pallavi Narayana

Certified Nutrition and Fitness Consultant

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