Is my protein intake adequate?
Can I increase my muscle mass without eating eggs?
If you are a vegetarian and have these concerns, you are not alone.Most vegetarians are skeptical about their protein intake.The good part is vegetarians can easily meet their requirement if they pay small attention and feel the importance of eating good amount of protein in daily diet.
Let us first understand what is a protein ?
Protein is of prime importance for growth, healing and maiantaince of tissue, skin , hair and nails. It is composed of 20 amino acids which are building blocks. These Individual amino acids have various targeted effects such as growth hormone elevation, blood ammonia detoxification, increased mental alertness, immunity, healing and recovery, antioxidant and anti inflammatory intermediates in energy production. That simply means Protein is one of the most essential nutrient required for our well-being.
So you see proteins which are made up of amino acids are performing a lot of important functions in the body. Out of the 20, nine are essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own.The real challenge is to supply these essential amino acids.
So what are my protein requirements?
According to the World Health Organisation, Protein should make up 10-15% of your daily calorie intake. That comes out to 46-50 grams for women and 55-60 grams for men. However the requirements differ under activity level , stress and other medical conditions
What are the top protein rich food sources?
- Milk and milk products (curd/cheese/paneer/khoa)
- fish and prawns
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and oil seeds
Out of all these non vegetarian sources are considered as good quality protein or “complete protein” where as vegetarian sources are considered as “Incomplete proteins”.
Being vegetarian, how do we ensure that we are eating good quality protein ??
Its simple remember the C2 rule .
First C- is to Complement proteins
Second C – is to Include Complete proteins ( Of course from vegetarian sources )
Lets first spell out how to complement proteins:
Since plant- based foods provide incomplete proteins that means they lack some essential amino acids. You need to combine certain plant -based foods to get the complete proteins you need.
The rule is simple. Combining two or more foods with incomplete proteins, to form complementary proteins, can provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids.
For example: Pulses provide an essential amino acid called lysine, which is low in many grains. Whole grains provide methionine and cysteine, which are low in pulses , or beans, peas, lentils and peanuts. The best thing to do is combine the two.
How do I plan my meals to ensure good protein in my vegetarian diet?
– Make sure you include at least one source of protein (mentioned above ) in each meal of the day.
– Include one serving of beans/ legumes in your major meals (lunch/ dinner)
– Make sure you drink glass of milk as a part of your breakfast or before going to bed.
– Make sure you consume one serving of curd post lunch or with lunch.
– Make sure you consume 15-20 g of any nuts or oilseeds per day (flaxseeds/ till/ pumpkin seeds etc)
– Include 30g of either paneer/ cheese/ khoa thrice a week in your diet
Here is a list of some food combinations that make a complete protein for vegetarians:
- Combine whole grains with legumes/ dals e.g. Moong dal khichdi (rice and dal in equal quantity)
- Legumes with grains, nuts, seeds or dairy ( Hummus with pita bread)
- Grains with dairy (wheat flakes with milk)
- Dairy with nuts (Flavored or plain yogurt with nuts)
Does eating enough proteins are helpful for weight loss?
Yes definitely! when you eat diet which provides you sufficient protein it helps you lose weight. As protein is known to provide feeling of satiety (feeling of fullness in less amount of food) you eat less and get weight loss result.
Second benefit in terms of weight loss is that protein rich diet is know to increase your metabolism. That means you burn more calories while performing bodily functions.
Now there is some more good news for vegetarians as recent research has shown the body is capable of obtaining the amino acids it needs for health as long as a variety of foods that contain all amino acids are consumed in the diet.
This means that the proteins do not have to be eaten together in a single meal and can be spread out throughout the day.
What about complete proteins for vegetarians?
Complete proteins are those proteins which contain all the essential amino acids. Fortunately for vegetarians there are complete protein sources which include dairy and dairy products soybeans, blue green algae, hempseed, buckwheat, and quinoa.
Yes the vegetarians win!!!!!
The constant dilemma of whether a vegetarian diet is adequate or not has got some pause. As various studies around the world confirm that vegetarian diets provide enough protein if they include a variety of plant sources.
Did you know the benefits of plant based proteins???
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) concludes that vegetarians have lower body mass indices, lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and less prostate and colon cancer.
- Plant-based proteins (beans, nuts and whole grains) come with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.
- Proteins gives a feeling of satiety , keeps you feeling full for longer. So you are less likely to go for second helpings.
- Protein has an high thermic effect. This means it requires more of your energy to digest , absorb and utilize it.
I am sure you are somewhat relaxed now and got some ideas as how to make your diet balanced in protein. Have any queries regarding diet and fitness? Do comment below or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you wish to get in touch with our dietitian regarding weight loss?
Leave your details below we will get back to you shortly.