READY TO DRINK PROTEIN
Here is a fun fact to begin with:
There are at least 10,000 different proteins that make you what you are, and keep you that way!
Proteins are extremely important for human body. Accounting for 20% of your body weight, proteins form an essential part of you.
Though there are different opinions on how much protein does an individual need, a normal adult needs about 0.2 to 0.3 kg of food rich in protein every day.
What is protein?
Proteins are complex combinations of chemical compounds called amino acids, which are linked together to form different patterns to make proteins with specific characteristics.
Simply put, proteins are the building blocks of our body. They are one of the three macronutrients found in food, the other two being carbohydrates and fats.
Why do you need protein, anyway?
Proteins make up an important part of our bodies. Most hormones, including insulin and progesterone, are nothing but proteins. Hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from lungs to every cell, is also a blood protein.
• Proteins help in rebuilding and repair of cells.
• Transport proteins in our body bind to minerals and other nutrients and carry them to all parts of the body.
• Myoglobin, a muscle protein, enables us to move.
• DNA and RNA are also proteins, and make up our genetic code.
• Proteins are also a part of our bones and skin, and are essential for the complete body structure.
• Enzymes that facilitate every chemical reaction in your body are also proteins.
Protein can help you in losing weight. Eating high-protein diet boosts your metabolic rate and decreases your appetite. This results in spontaneous reduction in intake of calories.
How to get protein in your daily diet?
A wide variety of food products are rich in protein. You can get your proteins from both plants and animals. There are some amino acids your body can synthesize on its own, but most of them have to be obtained from the diet.
High protein foods include beans, yogurt, cheese, seeds, nuts, eggs, fish, poultry and red meats. These food products contain around 20% protein.
Medium protein foods include pulses and grains like wheat, rice, barley, millet and oats. These are incomplete proteins and contain 6-14% protein. These must be consumed in combination with other protein foods.
Low protein foods include fruits and vegetables. These contain less than 5% protein.
Some people like to include protein supplements in their diet, but they are usually recommended for only athletes and body builders.
The best way to get adequate protein is to take a balanced diet. Having a meal with a variety of foods ensures that your body gets all the essential proteins. This is important, more so, if you are a vegetarian as many plant proteins are incomplete and require pairing.
How to choose your proteins?
Protein comes from both plant and animal sources. Both are treated the same by your body. The difference lies in the protein package. For example, steak is rich in protein, but it also has very high amount of fat, most of which is saturated. On the other hand, salmon with equal amount of protein content is much less in fats. Protein-rich lentils have only traces of fat, as well as fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Tofu and other soy food products are excellent meat substitutes, but you shouldn’t go overboard. 0.2 kg per week is more than adequate.
You should be selective about the bars and protein shakes containing concentrated soy as its impact on health has not been thoroughly studied yet.
Bottom-line: Take a look at the whole package when deciding on what to eat to fulfill your protein requirement.
How much protein is enough for you?
Individual protein requirement cannot be answered in ‘one-size-fits-all’. Gender, age, height, weight and physical activity are the prime determinants.
For a healthy individual between 19 and 30 years of age, the recommended daily protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight or 10-35% of the daily calorie intake.
This amounts to approximately:
56 grams of protein per day for men
46 grams of protein per day for women
For people participating in intense strength and training programs like athletes, requirement of protein can reach up to 1 gram per kg of body weight per day.
According to MyPlate, the nutrition guide published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you should fill 1/4th of your plate with protein-rich foods. Protein should only be a part of the supporting cast of food on your plate, and not on the spotlight.
No doubt, it is an important part of the diet, but extra protein does not help you build more muscles or grow stronger. In fact, by consuming protein-rich food in excess, you’re probably taking in more calories than your body actually needs.
Skipping proteins in your meals can cause you to put on weight. It may also lead to low adrenal gland and thyroid activity, and in turn, a shorter life span.
Bottom-line: Consume a wide variety of food to ensure adequate protein intake. Keep a watch on portion sizes as excess protein can cause health complications.
People with special protein needs
Children, during their growing age, need adequate protein intake. Vegetarian diets devoid of meat and eggs can lead to many health-related issues.
Protein consumption is critical for pregnant and nursing women. Poor intake of protein will hamper the growth of the child, both physical and mental.
Elderly people are more prone to protein deficiency because of the problems they face while chewing as well as loss of appetite. Digestion of protein requires certain enzymes, the secretion of which diminishes with age. Hence, supplements should be taken for digestive enzymes.
Protein digestion is impaired in people with chronic illnesses like cancer. Proteolytic digestive enzymes are important supplements in such cases. In certain cases, amino acid capsules can also be taken.
Body builders and endurance athletes need high doses of protein, almost 50% more than what a sedentary person needs.
Vegans who don’t eat animal products can meet their protein requirements by keeping their diets rich in dried peas, beans, whole grains etc.
Can high protein affect you adversely?
Protein diets are satiating, and serve as an effective means to shed weight when planned correctly. However, a protein-rich diet is associated with high saturated fat content and less amounts of fibre.
Eating lots of fatty animal foods like bacon, lamb and pork loads your body with unrequired saturated fat. Turn to skinless chicken, fish and nuts instead.
While sticking to high protein diet, you tend to ignore fruits and vegetables, and skip out on dietary fibre. Make sure to eat plant foods also to prevent the risk of diabetes, cancer and obesity. Excessive intake of proteins can be tough on the kidneys and may cause imbalance in body chemistry.
Eating too much protein can cause bloating, gas and toxins in the body. It may also lead to liver toxicity, depleting calcium and high serum cholesterol.
So, enjoy your food. And be sure, you are having adequate protein in your diet.