- Protein consumption is important for muscle growth and development
- Vegetarian diet can provide you with sufficient protein
- Protein-rich foods can be included in weight loss diet
Protein is an essential macronutrient that performs many crucial functions in the body. It is required for well-being from top to toe. Protein is present in skin, hair, muscles, organs as well as the skeletal system. It also functions as various hormones and enzymes. It provides structure to your body and is actively involved in repairing any wear and tear of tissues and muscles. We all know that we need to consume protein every day. But, are we doing it the right way?
Common myths about protein consumption that you must stop believing
Myth 1: You can't get enough protein from a vegetarian or plant-based diet
Fact- To make a food source touted as "complete" protein it should be able to provide all the 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. While most of the animal products are regarded as complete sources of protein, many plant-based food sources also provide the essential amino acids. Soy and its products are excellent in high quality complete protein. Quinoa is also rich in plant based protein and so is buckwheat. Essentially when you combine rice with pulses- it becomes a complete meal within itself. High quality plant-based protein is also found in chickpeas, kidney beans, walnuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and oats.
Myth 2: Protein is only required by body builders/ athletes
Fact- The functions of protein are just not limited to muscle growth or development. Proteins function as the basic building blocks of your body. It is present in your skin, hair, nails, tissues, and muscles. Protein is also essential to promote satiety and boost metabolism. The amount of protein required by everyone, however, depends on their lifestyle and the amount of physical activity.
Myth 3: Supplemental protein is better than dietary protein
Fact- You might be tempted by all those fancy labels and fancy packages of protein claiming to work on muscles, weight loss, fat cutting and what not! But, the truth is - natural protein through dietary sources is somewhat better than supplemental protein. If you are able to meet your dietary protein requirements through diet, there is no need to go for supplements. However, supplements might be required in certain cases- always consult a qualified dietician before taking up any food supplement.
Myth 4: Protein needs are same throughout life
Fact- The current recommendations of protein requirement are based on a meta-analysis studies of nitrogen balance. The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8-1 grams per kilograms of body weight, but your protein needs increase as you age as older people progressively lose muscle mass- a condition known as sarcopenia. There is also a higher protein requirement during infancy and early childhood because of muscle growth.
Myth 5: You should only consume protein after an intense workout
Fact- You should not restrict your consumption of protein only after or before your workouts. Just like carbs of fats, you need constant supply of protein throughout the day. You will reap more benefits of protein if you consume it throughout the day. In fact, make it a thumb rule to have protein rich breakfast as it will jump-start your metabolism and keep you energised throughout the day.
(Nmami Agarwal is nutritionist at Nmami Life)
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