“Give me a high protein and low carb diet.”
It is the most common request I get from a weight loss client. With popular diets such as Atkins and Dukan to the recent Ketogenic one, proteins have always been painted as a favorite and magical nutrient for weight loss. Unlike carbs and fats, proteins have always got good publicity by nutritionists.
After all, proteins boost metabolism, shrink appetite, reduce the hunger hormone and increase satiety hormones.
But before you jump on this high-protein bandwagon to reach your desired weight, it’s a good idea to know the role of proteins, the food sources, and your recommended protein intake.
What are proteins and why do you need them?
Proteins are macronutrients, like carbs and fats, which your body needs in substantial amounts to carry its multiple functions. As enzymes, proteins aid in digestion and create DNA; and as antibodies, proteins allow you to combat infection; as haemoglobin, proteins play a key role in transporting oxygen across the body. Simply put, proteins do more than just help build strong muscles.
How much protein should you eat?
Now that you have understood the superpower of protein, let’s understand how much protein you need. Ideally, your protein requirement is calculated as 0.8-1 gram of protein per kg of your ideal body weight. If you have a super intense workout routine, you need to up your protein intake to 1.2 grams per kg of your ideal body weight.
Assuming your ideal body weight is 65 kilograms, on the days you have a gruelling gym session, you’ll need 65 grams of protein. On the other days, a quota of 52-55 grams protein is sufficient. Your gym session and protein intake go hand in hand.
Always remember – extra protein, like excess carbs and fats, gets converted to fat because fat is the only way your body knows to store extra calories. And excess proteins, in the long run, damage your liver and kidneys. So, become smart with how much proteins you consume.
How to meet your protein quota?
With protein requirement in check, let’s look at the foods you need to get on your plate to meet the quota. Your body needs 20 amino acids; 11 non-essential ones can be manufactured by the body. The remaining 9 are essential amino acids must come from your diet. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein that form an integral part of all your body’s cells.
Animal source proteins – eggs, dairy, fish, prawns, meat, and chicken – are complete proteins bursting with all the essential amino acids.
- Fish has a higher biological value than chicken and meat.
- Eggs have the highest protein biological value i.e. all the proteins in eggs are absorbed by your body, followed by whey isolate and dairy products. Boiled egg whites and a whey isolate shake with water are high biological value proteins and should be your top post work out choices. For a protein shake, always choose one with 24 grams of protein in a scoop.
- And don’t forget to eat a fruit, bread or a boiled potato along with egg whites/shake to replenish your glycogen stores. When you skip carbs, proteins will supply energy to your cells instead of building muscle.
Plant-source proteins – All plant source proteins except soybean are incomplete proteins. Both cereals and pulses lack essential amino acids. By pairing them together, you’ll get a complete protein meal.
- That’s why you should always eat dal/rajma with rice, idli/dosa with sambhar or chole with a paratha.
- Similarly, a paneer paratha, a vegetable cheese sandwich and aloo paratha with curd are some excellent protein-packed breakfast choices.
The never-ending veg vs non-veg protein debate:
Since animal origin foods are complete proteins, it’s often assumed that vegans and vegetarians fall short in protein supply. That’s not true! Vegans and vegetarians have plenty (and equally delicious) protein choices.
- If you are a vegan, experiment with soybean, sprouts, nuts, dals, tofu, quinoa, soy milk and almond milk.
- For a vegetarian palate, you’ve got the vegan options and dairy products to showcase your culinary skills. In fact, with cheese and paneer alone, you can play around with so many dishes.
- To boost your protein intake, you can also savour a besan/moong dal chilla for dinner if the thought of dal is too dreary.
- Soy granules or paneer can ramp up the health and protein quotient if you’re in the mood for a wrap or a burger.
- Also, you can use the whey water while you make paneer at home to knead the dough.
We can help you!
And in case you are running out of ideas to meet your protein quota, I can offer you the easiest solution: download the bon happetee app. The app calculates your proteins intake after analyzing your physical activity, weight and food preference. After you select the high protein plan, you can choose from a variety of dishes that perfectly walks the tightrope between taste and nutrition.
The app will do the math; all you need to do is eat. Now, it can’t get easier than that, can it?
So, here’s to a smart protein eater with the bon happetee app. Cheers!!
Vishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.