DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) says that you need 0.8g of proteins per kg weight of your body or 0.36g per pound per day, which means a 56kg person would need 44g of protein per day.
I was trying to count the calories I ate daily with an app named life sum. It was such a frustrating task to count each calorie you eat. With counting calories that app also tells you the number of macronutrients you consumed from your food. After some days I realised that I was eating very less protein. Although I am eating the DRI recommended amount I am not eating enough according to the recommended diet plan for me, also I was overdoing fats.
When we talk of protein intake there are two extreme school of thoughts one says that higher protein intake can cause kidney failure and others say that we are protein starved.
This is because people are going crazy with protein bars and protein shakes and simply ignoring the healthy protein sitting on your kitchen shelves. The high concentration in these protein powders causes problems like baldness, kidney problems in longer run and much more.
but not all scientists agree upon the value. There are debates on what is appropriate value for people who are recovering from surgery, people who work out a lot, athletes etc.
There is even a debate that the recommended value is too less for adults on an average. As we pay attention to the number of cells which are replaced by new cells in our body,(even if our body has an excellent recycle mechanism) the DRI protein intake sounds like an underestimation.
I found a study on google scholar which says even after consuming double the DRI protein intake no kidney failures were seen(1).
How does that look on a plate?
Its easy to say that you need 44g of protein. But foods contain all the nutrients and not only protein so if you are eating one cup of gram flour (besan) it has
- 20g of protein
- 6g of fat
- 53g of carbohydrates
And if we talk about practicality no one eats just one cup of gram flour. We make some kind of edible food with other ingredients in it, those ingredients may or may not contain protein and we don’t really measure how many grams of food we are eating. This is what makes designing diet a science.
So, you should measure protein and not the whole intake.
Why protein is important
We all have read in school that proteins are building blocks of life. what they mean by that, protein is just everywhere in our body.
They not only make the muscles but also antibodies which fight the diseases, bone, skin, hair, nails, enzymes and a lot more.
Our body processes its own protein by coding amino acids just like a website is built by coding computer language.
For that our body needs raw materials which are called as amino acids.
There are 20 basic types of amino acids of which 10 can be completely made in our body and 10 cannot be made in our body.
The ones which are not made in our body are the amino acids which we are looking for in our diet.
Simple ways to deal with it the vegetarian way
Just eat roasted chana whenever you feel snacky it has 21g of proteins per cup.
Sprouts on an average have 24g of protein per 100g so eat a lot of sprouts.
Jackfruits are best of all the other fruits for protein intake as they give 3g of protein per cup, which is less than other stuff like sprouts but, high if we compare it with other fruits.
Paneer is a source of protein but its not a lean source of protein it has lot of fats. 40g of paneer has 7g of protein and 5g of fats.
Lentils(dal) are lean source of protein as they even contain fibre and other goodies. When preparing anything with lentils try to incorporate different kinds of lentils so you get different kinds of amino acids. They on an average have 9g of protein per 100g. The trick is when you eat rice take a small portion of rice in a bowl and take a lot of dal so we get most of the protein.
In nuts I found that peanuts have the 25g of protein per 100g which is really high. but remember they also have a lot of fats.
In seeds, sunflower seeds have the same 25g protein per 100g.
I know that quinoa and other fancy food stuffs are also high in protein but I just wanted to give everyone an idea that there is a lot of protein in the stuff we already eat which is not even that expensive, we just need to manage it well.
When we eat protein derived from plant sources it is harder for our body to absorb all the protein as compared protein coming from animal sources. So, when we eat vegan protein sources, we are supposed to eat a lot of it for our body to absorb it fully.
What is the maximum amount you can eat?
Yes, there can be too much of protein which can cause harm to your body.
If you are not an athlete or a body builder and not heavily doing physical work you should not go beyond 2gm of protein per kg of your weight which is 112g of protein for a 56kg person as recommended by Harvard’s educational website.(2)
There are a lot of debates on how much protein should you consume daily. It is a little difficult to obtain protein from a plant based diet but it can be achieved by good management. You don’t need of getting fancy diet foods to get healthy as those foods are often sitting on
Tell me what is your favourite protein source in the comments below.