The Protein Story

A post from our nutritionist, Samreedhi

Proteins are the building blocks of the body. This nutrient helps to repair and restore tissue wear-and-tear. In recent times protein seems to have become the most talked about nutrient. We receive several questions about the benefits of protein, and its role in weight management. Let’s try and break down the protein story.

What are the food sources of proteins?

Proteins in food may come from vegetarian and/or non-vegetarian sources.

Vegetarian sources include split and whole pulses, grains such as wheat, nuts, seeds etc.

Milk and milk products such as paneer, cheese and yogurt are also considered as vegetarian sources of protein in India. Non-vegetarian sources include eggs, fish and other seafood, meat and poultry.

How much protein does an average Indian need?

The daily requirement of protein depends upon one’s activity levels. The Recommended Dietary Allowance per day for sedentary women is 55g of protein, and for men – 60g of protein (as per ICMR, 2010).  Given that Indians have a predominantly cereal-based diet which provides protein, here are some of the simple ways to add good sources of protein to your meals:

• If you’re a vegetarian: 1 glass of milk, 2 medium servings of pulses, 1 serving of yogurt.

• If you’re a non-vegetarian: 1 egg, 1 serving of pulses, 1 serving of meat, fish or poultry, 1 serving of yogurt.

Is there a downside to having too much protein?

People who exercise regularly or even weight managers believe they must increase their protein intake significantly to see results. However, one needs to be mindful of how much protein their body really needs, given their activity levels, as going overboard with protein intake may cause an imbalance. And that’s why, nutritionists recommend a balanced diet that ensures you get your daily requirement of nutrients such as proteins, fibre, carbohydrates and essential vitamins and minerals.

Do foods high in protein help you feel full?

Yes! There is plenty of scientific evidence through research studies that points towards this.  Foods high in protein provide a feeling of fullness and may induce satiety. This could in turn help reduce hunger pangs, thereby preventing overconsumption of food either in the same or the next meal. This may be the reason why proteins are associated with weight management.

Why else is protein important for weight management?

Proteins require more energy to be metabolized in the body (as compared to carbohydrates and fat) and are therefore thought to help increase metabolism. Increased metabolism, in turn means increased energy expenditure which means more calorie burning by the body.  The lean body mass comprises of protein and therefore adequate protein consumption leads to increase or maintenance of lean body mass. Lean body mass is the active body tissue that utilises energy and helps in burning calories.

In conclusion

Protein is an important nutrient, especially for weight managers and one should try to actively incorporate more of it by adding protein rich foods in one’s diet. The key is to maintain a balance of nutrients and ensure that foods in your diet nourish and satiate you.

Samreedhi Goel is the Consulting Nutritionist for Kellogg India Pvt. Ltd.
She has been running her exercise studio “SIZEWISE” in Mumbai since 1999 and has helped thousands of people get in shape. Samreedhi prescribes a Zig Zag diet, the basis of which is carb cycling – a diet plan that has a mix of high carb & low carb days.

Twitter/Instagram   @samreedhigoel