Protein is the king👑 of all Nutrients. You will definitely accept it, after reading this post😄
Every day we take proteins in our food, but the Quantity and Quality we take, decides everything. Let’s know all those things now.
Proteins are made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen. First three are also present in carbohydrates. Nitrogen is something which is only present in Proteins.
What are proteins made of?
Protein is made up of many thousands of Amino acids, connected by Peptide links. These Aminoacids form into chains or strands, which are folded into different shapes and sizes.
There are 22 types of Aminoacids, that are repeated to form those chains.
Types of aminoacids:
These are the Aminoacids that can’t be manufactured by the body and must be supplied only by the diet. Among 22, only 8 are essential.
Rest of the 14 are non essential which means, it’s not essential to supply them by food, as they are already manufactured by our body.
So, our focus should be on the supply of these 8 essential Aminoacids to our body. Rest, the body takes care.
What is a protein rich food?
So, what do you think is a Protein rich food? Foods with Essential aminoacids? or Non essential? Obviously the answer is, Essential.
Because as body can manufacture nonessential ones, we must be only considered with the intake of those, which are not available in body.
So protein rich foods we know are all, rich in Essential Aminoacids. That is the base for their categorization.
Quality of Protein in food, depends on the number of Aminoacids and their proportions.
Like, if some food is rich in 5-6 Aminoacids, it is not sufficient. It is low in Protein.
A Protein rich food, must contain all the 8 essential Aminoacids.
Keeping this in mind, if we seggregate the foods, Animal foods are good quality of Proteins.
Plant foods usually lack few essential Aminoacids, which makes it a poor source.
But, combining many plant foods may compensate it.
- Cereals like Oats , Flaxseeds, Barely are rich in an Aminoacid called Methionine and poor in Lysin.
- Whereas, Pulses like Bengal gram, Chickpeas, Red gram are all rich in Lysin and poor in Methionine.
So combing Cereals and Pulses is good idea.
Food combinations for Good Protein :
- Dosa ( Rice + urad dal)
- Rice + Dal
- Roti +( pulse & cereal) curry
- Rice +(pulse & cereal) curry
- Panner + soya curry
- Animal food piece + vegetable pieces, forms a great meal, as it covers all the types of essential aminoacids.So, one need to combine many food sources to get a perfect protein meal. But, a single animal source with few vegetables easily forms that great meal.
Food Sources of Protein are:
- Fish, Meat, eggs.
- Milk products : Milk, Panneer, Khoa, Curd
- Pulses : Soya bean, Rajmah, Bengal gram, Green gram,
- Nuts and seeds: Groundnut🥜, Cashew nut.
Among these, some foods may have less protein value per gm but, are the best quality of protein as they are rich in few aminoacids.
Example : Milk has only 3-4gms of protein per 100g, but is very good in protein quality. Same is with the egg, which has 13gm of protein per 100gms.
How much protein to take?
According to the ICMR, Recommended diertary intake (RDI), 1gm of protein per 1kg of body weight is required per a day. That is, if you are of 60kgs, you require 60gms of protein in a day.
But is this really sufficient?
This is the value given to just meet your protein needs in a border line. It also differs from person to person, their work pattern, their age, gender and many.
So, keeping all those things in mind, and also to get a good physique and energy, an intake of 2x ( double the weight) or 3x (Triple the weight) gms of protein for every 1kg of body weight is really good. That is, for 60kgs of body weight, 120-180gms of protein is great.
Caution: If any kidney related health issues, you are not advised to take more protein, as it causes a kidney load.
Do you know? A good intake of protein foods, will eventually provide you a good amount of other nutrients too. So you will undoubtedly get a Balanced diet by just managing the protein foods.
Okay then, what does this protein do? Let’s know.
Functions of Protein :
Proteins are responsible for the physique we have, the built and the Musculature. The digestive products of Protein – Aminoacids, build new tissues in the body and are the main factors for growth.
- Growth from a kid to adult, has many changes. Our bones grow, muscles grow, fat grows, number of cells and tissues grow. All these are the results of work of Aminoacids.
- Apart from helping in growth, proteins also maintain the body. They replace all the worn out cells from time to time. All the old and dead cells get replaced with the new ones. Look, how important protein is.
- You know, we have many hormones in the body, that gets released according to situatuons. Some of these hormones are made of proteins.
Example: Insulin ( This is made up of 51 aminoacids, which are linked by peptides)
- Other regulating function is to produce Enzymes. There are many enzymes in the body which are responsible for all the functions to take place.
Be it the digestion, respiration, circulation, many enzymes play their role. All these enzymes are protein in nature. Hormones and enzymes both regulate the metabolism of our body.
Any infection or disease, our body gets ready to fight immediately. This is what we called as Immunity.
Antibodies are the major warriors of immunity. All these Antibodies( IgA,IgD,IgE,IgG, IgM) are made up of proteins.
I guess, you may not be knowing this. Even Haemoglobin, is made up of proteins. You know how important is haemoglobin, in carrying the Oxygen to body tissues from lungs and carbon dioxide from tissues to lungs. Life is not possible without it. So, proteins rule in this aspect too.
Well, in this Energy production, proteins are not so marked, as it is not their main function. Carbohydrates take major role in this energy production.
But when both carbs and fat fail to produce energy, proteins work at emergency to give it. They break down into aminoacids to produce energy. 1gm of protein gives 4kilocalories of energy.
Let’s now know, how it is taken into body or gets digested.
Digestion of Protein
Saliva has nothing to do with protein digestion. It has no protein digesting enzymes. Digestion of proteins start in the stomach where, Pepsin from gastric juice helps.
Pepsin can only make proteins into partly digested amino acids chains. They then enter into Intestines where two steps takes place.
- Breakdown of partly digested protein into smaller chains by Proteolytic enzymes.
- Breaking of smaller chains into separate amino acids by Peptidases( breaks the peptide bonds)
Metabolism of Protein
These amino acids, are then carried by blood from Intestine to liver. ( Portal circulation)
Here, these amino acids are used in three ways.
- Few help in building of Blood proteins
- Some are retained in Liver
- Rest enter the blood circulation for body.
The third one is important here.
From the blood circulation, some amino acids are taken up by tissues of various parts of body to synthesize new proteins. (so doubling up the protein in body)
So, here proteins or say amino acids of good quality are only selected by tissues, to produce new ones. Poor quality ones are used for energy production, which is not even a main function of proteins.
Finally, this is the information we need.
Proteins of good quality are our only targets. This is the reason why Nutritionists and we Doctors emphasize on taking good protein.
In a nutshell :
For the body to grow, to work, to regulate, to defend and to do many, Proteins are must. You can only get such important and good quality proteins, from good sources (Animal foods – have right proportions)
Note: If you are a vegan or hate eating animal foods, you can also survive or stay healthy. But remember, that only happens when you plan your diet, very well every single time. A combination of all the types of vegetable sources like pulses, cereals, nuts is must.