One of the most crucial questions about daily diet is ‘how much’. How much protein and how much carbs, how much fats and how much vitamins?
Because the line between overeating and undereating is blurred. I have often been asked ‘how much protein we need every day. That’s why, I thought of writing this blog, to bring to light the facts about protein.
Most kids today know about protein shakes and bars. It has become synonymous with muscle gain and weight loss. But, protein, in reality, are the building block of our body. Apart from the muscles, it also builds up the organs, tendons, hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.
Thus, every part of your body needs healthy proteins to function right. But again, the question remains how much is the right portion for your body? And which sources are good sources?
First things first, how much protein do you need every day?
There have been multiple research and reports, often contradicting each other. That’s why I am going to say it simply. The amount of protein that your body requires depends on your weight, age, gender, and your lifestyle.
If you are an adult leading an inactive life, then 0.8 grams per kg of body weight is adequate for you. This approximates about 56 grams of protein per day for a male weighing about 70 kgs and 46 grams of protein for a woman weighing about 60 kgs. This is enough to prevent deficiency and related deficiency diseases.
People who are physically active, their bodies demand more protein than those who lead a sedentary life. If your day includes walking, running, swimming, or exercising then you need to eat more protein.
Athletes need a significant amount of protein approximately about 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kg of body weight. Elderly people have increased protein needs, about 1 to 1.3 grams per kg of body weight. This helps in preventing age-related conditions like osteoporosis and sarcopenia.
Also, people recovering from injuries may need a higher amount of protein.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body demands more protein for tissue development and growth. Protein is important for both the mother and the rapidly growing baby. A study said that pregnant ladies should consume 1.2–1.52 grams per kg of protein daily during pregnancy.
Also, the protein requirements for breastfeeding women are higher than the average recommended amounts. Doctors recommend that protein consumption during breastfeeding should be 1.3 grams per kg daily.
Just to give you a clear idea, “grams of protein” refers to grams of the macronutrient protein, not the grams of a protein-containing food!
What are the right sources to obtain protein?
If your diet includes animal products like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy, then you are most likely getting enough protein already. Fish and seafood are good sources of protein. However, a vegetarian diet too can fulfill the daily protein requirements. Nuts, seeds, soy, beans and lentils, quinoa, and whey proteins are all good sources.
Some people also opt for protein supplements but as I always say, it is always better to get your nutrients from natural and organic food sources. And, in case, you want to go for supplements, then, please consult a doctor before starting any supplement!
Is too much protein bad for you?
Too much of anything is bad, even the good stuff when overdone, can be damaging. Research reports suggest that people suffering from kidney problems should restrict their protein consumption. However, there is no clear evidence that excess protein can cause kidney damage in healthy people.
An important point to note here is that the body can’t store protein. So, once the daily requirement of protein is met, the extra is stored as fat. This can lead to elevated blood lipids and heart problems.
Underconsumption of Protein
As the body can’t store protein, it’s important to fulfill the protein requirement daily. Underconsumption of protein can lead to the breakdown of muscles. Though protein deficiency is rare, it can largely impact the strength, look, and energy levels of a person!
How to meet your protein requirements?
Counting the calories and proteins with every bite is a nuisance. Eat a banana and boiled egg for breakfast. Add lentils and pulses to your lunch. Drink milk in the evening and have some fresh healthy makhanas in your snacks! Fruits and nuts, you can eat for breakfast or post-lunch, depending on your schedule. Just remember that set a disciplined routine and make sure to follow the routine every day.
Proteins are an important part of the daily diet. And since ancient times, when people used to have a super active life, meeting protein requirements was never a problem. Indian diet has always been rich in proteins. Be it banana, cow milk, almonds, banana blossoms, yogurt, vegetables, fruits, chickpeas, and beans. Indian meals are super rich in protein!!!
So, don’t stress over the numbers, and eat the right foods when you feel hungry!