Last updated on October 3rd, 2020
Life goes faster on protein. ~ Martin H Fischer
You must have heard that protein benefits your body in a significant manner !! Yes, this is right!
The benefits of protein can be explained in this fact bodybuilder grabs the jars of protein shakes to build muscle and for all-day energy while dieters gobble down protein bars in hopes of quick weight loss. It serves two purposes simultaneously.
However, everyone needs protein. It’s an important nutrient for your body.
In your daily life, you need to add proteins to your diet to prevent deficiency, which leads to a serious issue: malnutrition, if occurred. Protein under-nutrition results in fatigue, anaemia, physical weakness, and weak immune system.
Do you know protein benefits for hair, beautiful skin and nails? Your hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body needs them to build and repair tissue and uses proteins to make enzymes and chemicals (4).
What is Protein and What Does It Do?
Proteins are essential nutrients & main building blocks of your body tissue used to help grow organs and nourish skin & hair, build muscles, works as a fuel to provide energy as carbohydrates.
The most important thing is Protein is made of amino acids which play a major role to run our body. Yes, without protein, as you can see, your body can’t work.
There are 22 types of amino acid and your body can manufacture most of them by itself but there are still 9 which it can’t make. You must have to get these 9 essential amino acids through diet (5).
Protein Benefits in Weight Loss
Protein benefits in quick weight loss. It has been proven by experts several times. It reduces weight gain and thus helps in losing weight.
This study (6) finds how protein plays a major role in weight loss. The consumption of longer-term high protein diets showed a greater weight loss, fat mass loss, reduced belly size, developed a feeling of fullness, boost in metabolism and other health benefits were also reported such as the reduction in blood pressure & cardiovascular risk factors.
One other study (7) found that a high protein diet reduces appetite.
One study in obese men showed that protein at 25% of calories lowered hunger levels, reduced the desire for midnight snacking by 50% and thoughts about food by 60% (8).
According to this study, a common end-product of digested protein – Phenylalanine – triggers hormones that make you feel less hungry and cause weight loss (9).
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Protein Benefits in Increasing Lean Muscle Mass and Strength
Proteins are the main building blocks of body tissues. They are made of essential amino acids without which the body would remain dull.
It is a scientifically proven fact that protein supplements increase physical performance during both pre-workout & post-workout exercises.
Protein increases training session recovery, lean body mass and builds muscles.
However, a specific protein is for specific needs. For example, Whey protein increases strength and is used as a dietary supplement.
Protein Requirements to Build Muscle
Studies (10) say that fat-free milk is more effective for post-workout in promoting increases in lean body mass, strength, muscle hypertrophy and decreases in body fat. Milk proteins are superior to soy proteins in promoting lean body mass.
And if you are doing physical activity or building muscles, you can increase protein consumption above recommended guidelines for good results.
Though different studies have suggested different guidelines. Some scientists found that for building muscles, daily intake of protein should be 1.2-2 g per kg.
But most studies suggest that 0.7-1 grams per pound of lean mass (1.6-2.2 grams per kg) are sufficient.
This new study has stated the protein needs to be a minimum of 0.7 grams per pound, or 1.6 grams per kg (13).
Daily Protein Requirements for Average Person
Protein benefits in repairing and organs of your body so it must be included in your diet.
There are different guidelines on how much protein your body needs. But most of the nutrition guidelines suggest modest protein intake.
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. WHO recommends protein intake should constitute 10-15% of your caloric intake.
However, nutrition & dietary guidelines are different for individual countries.
As per ICM (Indian Council Of Medical Research) :
Protein values for Indians are based on per kg for all ages (14).
For adults, the protein intake is 1.0 g / kg of weight per day
This amounts to :
- 60 grams per day for an average male weight of 60 kg.
- 55 gm per day for an average female weight of 55 kg. For pregnant women, an additional 23 grams is recommended which amounts to 78 grams per day.
- For a lactating woman (up to 6 months) an additional protein of 19 grams i.e. 74 grams per day & when the baby is between 6 to 12 months, she requires 13 additional grams of protein which amounts to 68 grams per day.
Additional Requirements of Protein
Protein benefits a lot in certain circumstances. Its intakes have been suggested to increase for the specific group of people such as pregnant women, lactating mothers, growing children, athletes, bodybuilders or when the body needs to recover from malnutrition or trauma or after an operation.
Disregarding muscle mass and physique goals, physically active people do need more protein than sedentary people.
If your job is physically demanding, you walk a lot, run, swim or do any sort of exercise, you need to eat more protein.
Studies say, endurance athletes also need significant amounts of protein – about 1.3–1.8 grams per kg (15).
According to the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad :
Protein intake guidelines for an adolescent are as follows :
- For boys (aged between 16-18 years) weighing 57 kg weight is 78 gm per day, & for same age group girls weighing 50 kg is 63 grams per day.
- Pregnant women require 65 gm of protein, while lactating women (up to 6 months) need 75 grams per day (16).
What Happens If You Have Too Little Protein in Your Diet?
The body’s need for protein is linked up with nitrogen levels in the body.
If you don’t have enough of the right levels of the right amino acids, you would develop nitrogen imbalance, lack of energy and nutrients, weak muscle, swelling, thin hair, skin problems and lack of growth and also hormone imbalances in children.
India has a great & shocking figure of malnutrition. One in four children in India is malnourished. Lack of education is one of the major causes.
It is a well-known fact that malnutrition during pregnancy causes the child to have an increased risk of future diseases, physical & mental retardation, and reduced cognitive abilities.
Symptoms of Protein Deficiency
- Loss of energy
- Low strength, muscle loss, unexpected weight loss &
- Low sex drive
- Improper functioning of your immune system
What Happens If You Eat Too Much Protein?
As you saw above, too little protein results in many serious health issues on the other you must be aware of the side effects of eating too much protein too.
Experts recommend that eating a high-protein diet is beneficial for your health as long as it comes from healthy proteins, or the quality of protein can increase the risk of many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, bone health, and kidney disease.
Protein from processed red meat is linked to increased risks of these diseases.
However, an average person who is not an athlete or heavily involved in bodybuilding needs to avoid more than 2 grams/kg; which amounts to 125 grams/day for a 140-pound person (17).
Daily Protein Indian Food Resources
As you know, protein benefits your body in a significant manner so you must be aware of its resources to maintain your health.
Animal proteins such as egg, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish are of higher quality since they provide essential amino acids in the right proportion.
Even vegetarians can get enough protein by eating a combination of cereals, millets, nuts, and pulses. Milk and egg contain good quality protein.
Vegetarian foods with protein concentrations greater than 7 per cent include soybeans, lentils, beans – kidney beans, white beans, mung beans, lima beans, lupin beans pigeon beans, wing beans, peas-chickpeas, cowpea, pigeon peas(tur dal), almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, cotton seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Some of the rich sources of protein are pulses, legumes, nuts and oilseeds, milk and milk products, meat, fish and poultry.
Whey protein is a mixture of proteins prepared from the liquid material Whey. It is very digestive and used as a dietary supplement.
Ayurvedic Resources of Protein
Ayurveda recommends eating beans, dal, and lentils that are well-cooked to be digested easily. Beans, dal, and lentils are rich in protein as well as they provide complex fibre, carbohydrates, and vitamins.
In India, spices are added to make them more tasty and digestible. Spices that are mostly used are cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, gram masala, ginger, saffron, mint, turmeric, etc.
Dals are Mung Dal, Masur Dal, Tur dal, Channa dal, and Urad Dal. Compared to other dals, Mung dal is one of the low carb pulses and is high in protein too. Other pulses (dal) are high in protein but carbs as well. Chana and mung are also used like sprouts in beans form.
Other rich sources of protein are peas, legumes, nuts and oilseeds, milk and milk products.
Among the plant foods, soybean is the richest source of protein, containing over 40% of protein.
Note – Ayurveda suggests the food which is good in aroma, texture, nature-friendly, and violence-free. A person can be perfectly healthy being vegetarian. But you can take some fish, meat especially in soups in this diet.
But in Ayurveda, the amount and type of protein you need vary according to 3 Doshas – Vat, Pitt, Kapa.
To know, which Dosha type are you, take this quiz.
Vat (tendency to stay lighter)
Vat is the leader of the 3 Ayurvedic principles in the body. It is very important to keep Vata in good balance. Protein benefits in pacifying Vat. Eat more protein, but not more than you can digest easily. Eat warm cooked foods and less raw foods. Below is Vat pacifying diet also high in protein :
Dairy: Milk products like milk, buttermilk, curd. Always boil milk before you drink and drink it warm and at least two hours before or after a full meal.
Grains: They are to pacify Vat, rice and wheat are good. Reduce the number of whole grains.
Nuts: All nuts are good.
Spices: A small quantity of black pepper is okay. Cardamom, ginger, salt, cumin are acceptable.
Legumes: mung, tur dal, and urad dal. In moderation, red lentils and soya.
Oils: All oils pacify vat.
Fruits & vegetables: Eat sweet, watery or heavy fruits such as oranges, bananas, berries, mangoes, melons. Reduce dry fruits such as apples, pears, and dried fruits. vegetables – cucumber, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, asparagus. Avoid sprouts and cabbage.
Pitt ( tendency to have stronger digestion & metabolism)
It governs how you digest foods. Pitt balancing protein diet is below :
You should have a medium level of protein if you are suffering from this dosha and your vat is not balanced. Protein benefits in pacifying pitta dosha if it is taken in moderation.
Dairy: milk, butter, ghee are good. Avoid sour tastes such as yoghurt, cheese, traditional buttermilk.
Legumes: Most legumes and grains (a good mix of white and whole grain)
Nuts: Almonds in nuts
Oils: olive, sunflower, and coconut oil
Fruits & vegetables: include sweet fruits such as grapes, melons, mangoes, cherries and coconut, pineapple. Reduce sour tastes such as grapefruit, plums. Vegetables include sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, cauliflower, celery, green beans, cucumber, and zucchini. Reduce hot peppers, carrots, onions, garlic, spinach, radishes, and tomatoes.
Kapha [tendency to heaviness]
Ayurveda recommends a lower level of protein mainly derived from plant proteins if your Kapha is not balanced.
Follow this diet to pacify your Kapha :
Dairy: low-fat milk, boil milk before you consume it. Add 2 pinches of turmeric or ginger before boiling it. It will reduce the Kapha increasing qualities of milk.
Legumes: Include most legumes and grains (mainly whole grains). Don’t take too much wheat and rice. Barely and millet are very good. Don’t eat tofu.
Nuts: Nuts are not good. They increase Kapha. Reduce the quantity.
Spices:: reduce salt. All the spices are fine.
Seeds: in moderation.
Reduce sweeteners. Honey is excellent. It reduces Kapha.
Fruits & vegetables: eat light fruits such as apples, pears. reduce heavy fruits such as banana, figs, dates, and melons. All vegetables are good but tomatoes, potatoes, and cucumbers increase Kapha.
If you are suffering from Kapha, you should prefer a vegan diet as it tends to be light and dry, the qualities which reduce Kapha.
How do You Calculate How Much Protein You need?
To check your protein needs, check this calculator :
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