Do you eat a good amount of protein during the day? Do you get enough protein that you must? Before I dive into these, let me introduce to you the hero of this post; ‘protein’.
What is protein?
Protein is one among the 3 macronutrients (the others being carbohydrates and fat). Protein is made up of smaller substances called amino acids. Proteins are the building blocks of our body. We need protein to build muscle mass, help repair cells and for optimum growth and development. Did you know we need about 1g/kg body weight of protein every day? And here are the foods that give you protein.
What foods are rich in protein?
Eggs, lean animal meat and seafood (chicken, fish, prawns etc.), milk, curd/ yogurt, paneer, soya, tofu, pulses and legumes, nuts and seeds. Proteins are not stored in our body, which is why it is necessary to include small amounts of protein at all meals during the day.
Did you know, the diets of a majority of Indians are low on protein?
- Indian diets are carb dominant and protein takes a backseat.
- Non-vegetarian foods are higher in quantity and quality protein content and Indians are majorly vegetarians.
Protein supplements can be a good way to make sure you get enough protein in your diet.
There numerous protein supplements available in the market. How do you know which one is the best fit for you? The most common protein supplements are soy, whey and pea.
Soy protein is a plant-based supplement made from soya bean.
It is a good option for everyone including vegetarians, vegans and lactose intolerants. Soy is a complete protein source with high biological value. It contains BCAAs which are important amino acids for athletes and sportspersons for building muscle mass, improving exercise performance and muscle recovery from workout sessions. It is also beneficial to people who want to make sure they eat adequate amounts of protein.
Soy does have a lesser absorption rate than whey protein and may cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. Soy needs to be avoided by people with hypothyroidism because it interferes with the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Whey protein is made from milk. Whey is the liquid that separates when milk gets curdles while making paneer and cheese. It is rich in protein content. It is the most common supplement individuals go for while seeking muscle build up and toning. Whey is low in lactose which makes it suitable for those with certain degrees of lactose intolerance, but not all.
Whey protein is available in 3 forms – isolates, concentrates and hydrolysates. It comes in different flavours which can be mixed with milk or water. It can be incorporated in to smoothies and milkshakes as well. It is versatile and can find its way into your daily diet to make sure you are getting enough protein. If you are a vegan or are intolerant to lactose, we suggest you to steer clear of whey protein. You could try other protein supplements that are available in the market.
Pea protein, as the name suggests, is derived from yellow split peas. Why peas, you ask? Peas are rich in protein and have found be tolerated well by a majority of the population. It seems to be the safest choice in terms of being a vegetarian and vegan source and lowest allergic reactions. They are available as powders or as shakes. Pea protein also has a good bioavailability just like soy and whey but its Achilles heel is the low content of one amino acid called methionine. This means that pea protein should not be your sole source of protein during the day. Pea protein is a tough competitor for whey and soy protein because it gives almost as much protein as the latter two do, has the same functions and have lower associated health risks. Pea protein is environmental friendly. It has a lower carbon footprint that soy and whey.
When to take a protein supplement? Soon after your workout session would be an ideal time to take your protein supplement as it helps in building your muscle. You can also have it along with a meal if that meal did not contain a good amount of protein.
Protein supplements are good for the body, they are convenient, versatile and tasty. This does not mean you go overboard with protein. 1-2 scoops depending upon your daily needs and physical demands of your sport /workout intensity would be sufficient. If you are not sure how much to take, always consult your nutritionist.