Worried about your protein intake on a vegetarian diet? Know more about plant protein and its health benefits  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
New Delhi: With the ongoing pandemic, people are more conscious and aware of what they eat and put into their bodies. Whether it is vitamins, carbs, fats or proteins, there is a paradigm shift towards conscious choices. Followers of a vegetarian/vegan diet often struggle to find enough variation on their plate that suits their taste preference and provides the essential protein and vitamins required to meet their nutritional needs.
Protein is an essential component of every cell in the human body. It helps to build muscles & strength, is essential for post-workout muscle recovery, repairs tissues, and boosts immunity, produce enzymes and hormones. It also helps maintain muscle mass and general well-being. According to the ‘What India Eats’ report by Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), a meagre five per cent of rural Indians and 18 per cent of the urban populace in the country consume the recommended amount of good quality proteins. The report itself is clearly indicating a protein deficiency in Indians. Therefore, the need to consume the right quantity and quality of proteins is a prerequisite. In this article, Mr. Varun Khanna, Co-Founder, Fast&Up, gives insights on what are the various plant-based sources of protein, and how they can help meet the nutritional requirements of the body.
What is Plant-based protein?
Plant protein is a meaningful food source of protein, which is derived from plants. This includes pulses, tofu, soya, nuts, seeds, certain grains and even peas. Pulses are a large group of plants, which include chickpeas, lentils, beans (such as black, kidney and adzuki beans) and split pea. There are boundless benefits of plant-based protein. It helps those suffering from cardiovascular diseases, is good for weight management and reduces the risk of certain types of cancer besides being light on the stomach.
So those looking for vegetarian options for their protein source, there is a wide range to choose from, especially when it comes to our Indian diet coupled with the fact that there are many vegetarian variants available in the market today. Additionally, those on such diets can opt for a vegan plant protein-based powder in an effervescent form which is available in the market. Make sure it is a trusted and genuine brand. There are many supplements and plant-based protein powders available today but make sure they have no artificial sweeteners or unfamiliar ingredients or have an unpleasant smell. Choose a format that works for you and does not cause bloating or leaves you with an upset stomach.
The very purpose of protein supplements is to help fulfil the requirements that a vegetarian diet could be a deficit in to help build muscles and for general well-being and better immunity. 34 g of high plant protein in vegan protein supplements enables you to achieve the same results with a complete amino acid profile and maximum absorption. Many assume protein powders are only needed for muscle building and growth, which is not true as protein is known as the building block of life. Our body needs protein in adequate quantities for optimal health. With the current lifestyle and many such factors, it is difficult to achieve the daily requirements of protein per day which is 0.8 – 1.0 g/kg/bw/d.
A single source of protein like only pea or brown rice protein is known to be missing in one or more crucial amino acids. Even if all are present, they might be in low amounts. Pea protein is low in amino acids cysteine and methionine but high in lysine and pairs perfectly with brown rice protein which is low in lysine and high in cysteine and methionine. Together they offer complete protein which is superior to any single plant protein source. This means they have all the amino acids required by the body to help meet the demands, plus they are dairy-free, easily digestible and have a low potential for allergic responses.
It is highly recommended to fulfil your daily protein requirements with the help of a balanced meal combined with a protein supplement. It is important to stay hydrated and maintain an optimal intake of bone minerals and electrolytes like Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium while on a high protein diet.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.