NEW DELHI: Conversations around proteins have recently been gaining momentum, particularly in India. We even celebrate something called The Protein Week every year, from 24th-30th July. In this year’s programmed, an assessment of muscle mass for professionals in the corporate sector (in metro cities) revealed that six people out of 10 people suffer from poor muscle health.
In fact, most surveys indicate that 70 per cent of the Indian population does not get enough protein in its diet. A recent study published in Scientific Reports by Nature Research has highlighted the fact that the low lean mass (of muscles and organs) is putting South Asians at greater risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. Healthy muscle mass plays an important role in prevention of many diseases, and adequate protein consumption and exercise is crucial to build muscle mass.
How much protein does one actually need?
You require about one gram of protein per kilogram of your ideal body weight. An average male weighing about 60 kg should consume about 60g of protein while a female with an average weight of 55 kg should eat 55g of protein every day. The recommended daily amount of protein should be distributed across the meals of the day.
What are the sources of protein in the diet?
Contrary to popular belief, almost all foods contain some amount of protein along with other nutrients. Even so-called starchy foods like rice and potato, too contain some protein. It will be apt to point out here that it is not enough to simply look at the quantity of protein in the diet. The quality and digestibility of the protein is key. The quality of the protein depends on the amino acids (building blocks) present in it. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids in desired quantities. When certain essential amino acids are missing in a food, the quality is compromised and the protein is referred to as an ‘incomplete protein’.
Meats, eggs, milk, curd, cheese and soy are high protein foods. 100ml of milk contains 3.5g protein. However, it is very likely that we’re not consuming enough such foods to fulfil our daily requirement of protein to build adequate muscle mass.
Nutrition Therapist & Wellness Consultant