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All about Proteins

All about Proteins

India is a sarcopenic country. This is not a statement given by us. This is a statement by Padamshree DR. Shashank Joshi in one of his talks. What is Sarcopenia? It means loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength due to age/ gender/ lack of physical activity / poor quality of life. He meant, that Indians consume too little protein and have mostly become protein-deficient. He did not mean age as a factor. Although we didn’t say this, we have experienced this situation with all the diet history we have been taking for the last 12 years.

we can say this confidently because our team had the opportunity to work in different cities of India, and have online clients from different states and few NRIs too.

It’s not that protein is not available or too costly. It’s merely the choice of food. Also, some people feel making a balanced diet (including proteins in all meals) is not practical in today’s scenario. Women are mostly working as employees or at their businesses. Despite that, they still have to manage a household & kids without much help from family. Hence, processed or convenience food is becoming common in a few segments of society. The rest of them compromise on nutrition for convenience.

Where to find them?

1. Milk and Milk Products

2. Pulses and Legumes

3. Eggs, Meat and Fish 

4. Nuts and Seeds

5. Cereals and Grains to certain extent

Where not to find them!

1. Processed foods

2. Processed Powders

3. Advertisement Claims

We would like to share a small experience. During OPD counselling at AIIMS Delhi, a child came with stunted growth (happens due to lack of protein). We took his diet history which was poor in protein but he was having one of the famous processed protein powders ( complan, which claims to promote growth) twice every day. We asked him how long has he been consuming this powder. He said 5 years. We asked did it increased your height. He said no!

Recent studies by the Indian Council of Medical Research have shown that most so-called protein powders in India are of poor quality and not as per claims. Regular consumption has also been shown to cause mineral deficiencies and kidney damage. Frankly, Dietitian Anuradha has counseled several such Renal patients firsthand.

How much do we need?

Now that requires calculation. Approx ~1 gm per kg Ideal body weight is the defined requirement by the Indian Council of Medical Research. More if we are sportspersons or suffering any disease or injury. Did we understand that? Can we calculate that? Do we have the expertise?

What do we do now? All of us start visiting dietitians because they are the ones who can calculate for us. No, not really; unless we are either sportspersons or suffering from medical complications. We can follow a few rules to understand how much is our requirements and how to fulfill them.

  • Include one protein-rich foods in all 3 major meals, it can be simple like curd which doesn’t require elaborate cooking. Or add paneer cubes/ egg to pulav or veg preparation.
  • We can also make one-pot meals like Veg- dalia where dalia + dal + veg + ghee includes all the nutrients including protein. Or 3-course soup with corn + veg + chicken + homemade butter.
  • Make evening snack high protein ~ sattu/ eggs/ roasted chana or peanuts/ sprouts (pressure cook if cause gas)/ Chana salad/ Besan cheela or mung dal cheela/ Khaman Dhokla/ Chicken soups etc.

To Conclude 

We must understand proteins play a very important role in our health. We cannot underestimate its importance at all. And we cannot overlook and compromise due to “Lack of time”. We are all very busy, but the difference between healthy people and unhealthy people is priority. Healthy people prioritize health. Ok, we came to think of another difference, healthy people are not sarcopenic until they age. They even defy Age to certain extent.

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