Carbohydrates, vitamins & minerals, fat & sugar, dairy and protein are all the essential components of a complete meal. Each of these elements when consumed in the right quantities significantly contributes to the overall growth & proper functioning of the various body parts.
Why Proteins are Important?
Proteins are the building blocks of our body and one of the macro-nutrients needed by us to stay lean and fit.
Technically, proteins are combinations of several amino acids (or certain molecules) that are needed to build our body cells and tissues. Though there are about twenty types of amino acids, only 11 are self produced by the body while the other 9, that are considered essential, have to be obtained from food.
Since these amino acids are all unique in nature and are required to perform a specific function within our body, it is extremely important to opt for a variety of high-protein food.
Eating a protein rich diet on a regular basis results in easy digestion, weight loss, and fat loss and is a great source for muscle building and skin care. In fact body care products work better if you have a balanced diet. It also produces antibodies to fight diseases.
Lack of protein can lead to serious issues like drop in blood sugar level, hormonal swings or considerable weight gain. It could also result in low concentration & poor memory.
An extreme case of protein deficiency can cause a severe form of malnutrition, called Kwashiorkor, where the entire body looks emaciated, except for the stomach, ankle & feet which swell up with fluid. It can get life threatening too.
Proteins constantly get broken up while catering to our body requirements, and need to be replaced every single day. Therefore, it is imperative to include the right amount of protein in our diet daily.
How Much Protein Should One Take?
According to Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), 0.8 grams of protein should be consumed for every kilogram of body weight. However, the intake largely depends on the individuals, their lifestyles, age and activities.
Minimum recommended protein intake for an
- Average Sedentary Man (between 18 - 70+ years) is 56 grams/ day
- Average Sedentary Woman (between 18 - 70+ years) is 46 grams/ day
However, the protein recommendations may go up to 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, for an athlete or anyone involved in excessive physical activity
Sources of Proteins?
Protein sources can be categorized based on the quantity of protein they contain, and can come either from animals or plants.
Meat and dairy are high protein sources. Red meats, Lean meats or Poultry, Fish or Seafood, Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Yogurt etc are referred to as the superfoods of protein. Since they contain about 20% protein or more they are considered ‘complete proteins’ which means they are enough to fulfill the 20 amino acids, needed by our bodies.
Plant based is medium to low protein sources. Nuts, Seeds, Legumes, Soy, Rice, Wheat, Oats, Barley, Millet etc. contain 6 -14% of protein, while Vegetables & Fruits may contain less than 5%. These alone cannot suffice and are considered ‘incomplete proteins’. One would have to combine it with other protein foods to complete the body requirement. Vegans or athletes could also opt for Whey, protein powders or supplements to fulfill their protein needs.
Selecting a variety of protein food improves the overall nutrition intake and health benefits. What you eat is a matter of choice, but make sure your body isn’t undergoing any kind of deficiency.
Superfoods Living website