What is protein?
It is a nutrient needed for the overall health and wellness of a woman.
What is protein made of?
Proteins are made up of components called amino acids.
Every time we consume protein in our foods. It is broken down into amino acids inside our bodies. These amino acids are used for several functions in the body.
The amino acids can be put into 2 categories
These amino acids can be made in the body or can be provided to the body through food.
Essential amino acids – They can be given to the body only through food and can come only from your diet/ food.
Non-essential which can be made by the body and do not need to come from the food we eat.
Why are proteins needed for the body? What do they do?
Protein is a source of energy in the body. 1 gram of protein provides 4 Calories. Consuming 100 grams of it will provide you 400 calories.
Protein is the fabric of our bodies. The amino acids serve as building blocks and cement of the body.
Just like how bricks and cement are required to make a building. We need amino acids to build our organs, tissues and cells in the body.
In addition to the above amino acids are also required to make other kinds of proteins in the body.
These proteins required for:
Immunity – Make up the army/ immune system of the body that defends/ protects us from bacteria and other disease-causing germs.
Enzymes – Special proteins in your body called enzymes which are required to digest and help the body use the proteins that are there in the food we eat. Or digest the food we eat.
Hormones- They are special protein messengers which help the organs in the body communicate and function in harmony.
Required to maintain muscles and bones in the body – The muscles in the body are made of amino acids and need to be replenished from time to time through protein rich foods.
Healthy hair, skin and nails – Amino acids are required to build proteins that are required to keep hair strong, skin healthy, elastic and help repair any wounds on the body and healthy nails that are resilient and strong.
It also helps manage weight – A small quantity of protein rich foods can make you feel full and help reduce your calorie intake. This helps in weight loss and management.
How much protein should I consume? What are the protein recommendations?
1 g of protein per kg of body weight. An average woman who weighs 50kg consumes 40g of protein daily.
Protein demands of the body change during
Pregnancy – The requirements for it increase when one is pregnant because protein is required to help the fetus in the womb grow and build its organs.
It is also needed for the breast tissue and uterus tissue to grow.
Protein combined with physical activity is needed to build muscle tissue.
During physical activity the muscle develops small tears. The protein from amino acids/ protein in the food is used to repair the muscles.
Whether you want to lose body fat or grow muscles you need protein to provide you the physical strength to workout.
People exercising should up their protein intake depending on the intensity of the activity, body weight, etc. It is crucial to meet your protein intake to keep up with muscle tear and repair cycles.
Age – As one grows old and ages the muscles become weak and start to breakdown. They need more protein than they needed when they were young. The protein is needed to maintain muscle strength and keep them intact and to maintain bones.
What are the best sources of protein?
There are animal and plant sources of protein. But not all of them have the same quality.
Animal proteins are said to be higher in quality compared to plant protein.
Why is that so?
This is because animal protein contains higher proportions of essential and non- essential amino acids compared to plant-based proteins.
High quality proteins are also called complete proteins.
Examples of high quality or complete proteins
Foods how much protein they contain per serving and how much of the RDA does it meet?
Chicken – 27 g of protein in 100 g (1 serving of chicken breast)
Salmon- 80g protein in 1 fillet of salmon.
Eggs – 13 g protein in 100g /2 hard-boiled eggs
Cheese – 8g protein in 1 slice mozzarella cheese
Milk – 3.4 g in 250ml glass of milk
What about vegetarians or vegans?
Daal- 1 cup cooked daal contains 6 grams of protein
Beans- 1 cup cooked rajma contains 5 g of protein
Tofu- 1 cup of tofu contains 20 g protein
Peanut butter – 1 spoon of peanut butter contains 3.5 g protein
Quinoa – 1 cup contains 8.14 g of protein
Ways to increase protein intake to meet your body’s protein needs?
- To eat protein from a variety of plant protein sources in your diet.
Example:- Quinoa with Rajma, Peanut butter with bread
Include whole grains in your diet like brown rice white rice
- Choose grains like quinoa over rice and pasta which are low in protein content
- Include seeds like hemp, chia and flax seeds in your diet
- Eat nuts for a snack
- Protein supplements
Measuring out quantities of foods and paying attention to the nutrition content can be challenging for women with busy lives.
Protein supplementation can help meet the protein needs of the body. Protein shakes are an easy and convenient way to make sure you meet your protein requirements.
The market is flooded with many protein supplement options. They include whey protein, pea protein, hemp protein, casein protein, soy protein etc.
All of the above options contain all the essential amino acids.
But so many of them contain artificial preservatives and sweeteners that are not beneficial to health.
Whey and other dairy sources of protein may not suit a large portion of the population which is lactose intolerant. Can be hard on people’s digestive systems.
Soy is also a popular allergen that many people are skeptical about consuming.
The benefits of the protein supplements is only limited to building muscles and losing and managing weight.
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