If you have asked people with well-toned bodies what they eat and heard back "protein", if a colleague has told you she curbs cravings with "protein", then you are probably wondering how and why protein is so crucial in your diet.
“Protein is an extremely important macronutrient required by all ages at all stages. It is essential for all activity patterns of a human life, all throughout. Lower protein intake results in lowered immunity, lowered cell rejuvenation, faster aging, more hair loss, more aches and pains, weaker muscles, wrong posture, all of it. Therefore, proteins are very crucial,” says celebrity nutritionist and Fast & Up brand ambassador, Pooja Makhija whose famous clients include Deepika Padukone.
How much protein do you need in a day?
the RDA (recommended daily value for protein intake) is about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, the amount of protein you require depends on your health and fitness needs. Pooja says, “Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle require anywhere between 0.8 to 1 gram per kg body weight. But people who workout daily will need protein basis the nature of their workouts. If they are doing more cardio for weight loss then again, it is 0.8-1gm per kg of body weight. However, if they are doing intense weight training for muscle gain, then they require anywhere between 1 and 1 and1/2 grams of protein per kg of body weight.”
The best sources of protein
“Most animal proteins are complete proteins, so they can be had well broken up throughout the day. It is always better to have one fourth of your plate as protein in your three main meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner,” advises Pooja.
However, if you are a vegetarian, do remember, vegetarian proteins are incomplete. Therefore, they do not have all the nine essential amino acids. “The best way to have them is to complete them. For example, dals do not have one important amino acid vs. greens. Rice and roti too do not have one essential amino acid. Therefore, when you eat them together, they complete each other and therefore form a complete amino acid pool, which the body can use to get complete all-rounded nutrition in terms of all the nine essential amino acids,” she adds. Another way to get complete protein is to combine your proteins with carbs. However, she feels in the current situation, where many people are turning to plant-based nutrition and vegetarian diets, they could take protein supplements. “The Fast&Up Terra series, which features plant protein, is a good option. 1 tablespoon a day is good enough,” says Pooja.