The Entire Protein Thing
Lack of enough protein in diet is a common worry among vegetarians. And if you’re one of them, you need to consider how to boost your protein intake
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"Am I eating enough protein?" asks one of my patients, worried that his three-days-a -week yoga schedule and stressful work environment are depleting him. “Can I take protein shakes? I’m a vegetarian.”
“Are you striving for John Abraham’s body?” I ask the 43-year-old gentleman. “Nothing wrong in it, though, if you are,” I quickly add. I know many 40-plus people who have transformed their bodies with sheer hard work and dedication.
Lack of enough protein in diet is a common worry among vegetarians. And if you’re one of them, here’s what you should know:
• We need 1 gm of protein per kilo of body weight daily. So if you weigh 80 kg, you need 80 gm of protein.
• You can get this much of protein from a bowl of oats upma for breakfast (17 gm); a handful of nuts at mid-day (15 gm); a bowl of mixed beans pulses with 2 rotis (10 gm), a mixed vegetable bowl (7 gm collectively) for lunch; a snack early evening of roasted peanuts and chana chaat (20 gm); a small bowl of cauliflower potato vegetable (3 gm), a small bowl of paneer (10 gm), sprouts (7 gm) and a portion of rice (3 gm) for dinner. This adds up to 92 gm of protein, which is higher than what you need. You can easily eliminate the paneer at night and still get enough protein. Most people I know eat more quantities at each meal listed hence they take a higher quantity of protein than their body needs.
• Milk and almond milk have only 1 gm of protein every 100 ml. So sadly for you, they will not help you, instead may cause weight gain.
• Soy milk has 3.3 gm of protein per 100 ml, and is lower in calories.
• Quinoa and oats have higher protein content than milk, paneer and nuts.
• Unless you’re running three days a week and doing stretches and weights the other two days, the protein in a healthy diet is more than enough.
• If you’re working out, you should increase your protein intake via protein-rich foods and not protein shakes, as they can put pressure on the kidneys and raise uric acid levels in 40-plus people. They can also cause fatigue.
• The best sources of protein (vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian) are chicken, fish, oats, quinoa, eggs and soy in reducing quantities of protein per 100 gm.
If you’re still not sure how you can manage or increase protein intake, do email me giving your age, height, weight, location, job content, activity level, and I’ll be happy to help.
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I’m a colon cancer survivor and have been declared “cancer free” by the doctors. What can I incorporate in my lifestyle to stay cancer free?
— Vinay Lal, Sonepat
As a cancer survivor, you already have more cancer cells than healthy people as well as a lower immunity due to the cancer treatments that also kill good cells. To stay cancer free, focus on three things: 1) Anti-cancer foods like broccoli, garlic, fresh fruits, raw nuts and juices should be 70 per cent of your diet — this will increase the number of good cells and boost your body’s immune system; 2) oxygenate your body via breathing exercises and moderate exercise, as cancer cells cannot survive in an oxygenated environment; 3) stay toxin free. Stress, chemicals, pesticides, smoke, excessive alcohol, lack of sleep raise toxin levels and cause inflammation inside the body leading to build up of anti nutrients that can feed cancer cells.