8 out of 10 Indians are protein deficient. Yup, that's the statistic for our primarily vegetarian population, and that's bad news if you're trying to lead a fit lifestyle. More interestingly, for all our health & fitness craze, 9 out of 10 people don't even know how much protein they should be having!
Protein plays a critical role in keeping your energy levels up, your appetite in check, maintaining muscle strength and helping your hair, skin and nails stay healthy. It's not just for people that are working out at the gym - that's a myth. It's even more important for busy working people like you and me to eat enough protein to support our hectic work and family routine.
At Happy Jars we believe that protein from natural ingredients such as nuts, is the best source you can give your body. Using supplements may work in the short-term, but to manage the chaos of busy work-life and a family, a high-protein diet is a long-term commitment you need to make.
The Ideal Amount of Protein
How do you measure the 'high' in your high-protein diet? First off, let's start calling it the ideal protein diet. This ideal amount changes according to your lifestyle, goals, and medical conditions.
An average adult needs about 0.8g to 1g of protein per Kg of their bodyweight. So if you're 60kgs, you need to be eating 48g to 60g of protein per day.
Here's a quick formula you can use on your phone to calculate your ideal protein intake:
If you're pregnant or lactating, the ideal protein requirement is higher. Doctors recommend a minimum of 60g of protein during your pregnancy. If you lead an active lifestyle or play sports often, your requirement goes up to 1.2g per Kg of bodyweight.
Here's a great chart by Abbott that shows you how much protein your body needs based on your life stage and lifestyle.
Image credit: Abbott Nutrition
High Protein Foods for Weight Loss
Oh, I know ... the struggle is real. Losing weight seems like it's all about cutting down on the things you love to eat. We think we need to starve ourselves, but that's absolutely wrong! The real trick is in eating healthy things that make you feel fuller for longer, and protein plays a huge role in this.
When you're trying to eat less, eating more protein will ensure your appetite is controlled. You'll feel more full with one toast covered in peanut butter than you will with a toast covered in normal dairy butter.
The most sustainable weight loss is the one where you don't give up on the indulgences, but you find better sources for them. We believe you should eat chocolate everyday if you like it, but instead of having a regular chocolate spread, try Dark Chocolate Almond Butter & Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. They're oh-so-sweet (the good kind), free of chemicals, and full of protein. A chocolate nut butter as up to 74% less sugar than regular chocolate spreads but they fulfil your desire for something sweet.
Some other easy ways to increase the protein you eat - try to eat one egg everyday at breakfast (or peanut butter if you're vegetarian). Add chicken or egg to one meal, perhaps as an omlette or just a grilled breast piece. If you're vegetarian, eat Tofu or paneer for one meal and have daal at both meal times. For vegetarians particularly, try to include nuts in your 4pm snack for an added boost of protein.
High Protein Foods for a Healthy Diet
You may have reached a certain goal and want to maintain it, or maybe you're already at your peak health. Either way, protein helps you continue that healthy streak.
The right protein sources are dense, meaning they fill you up, have less fat and have complementing benefits. Nuts for one, are a great source of protein as they are accompanied by fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants content. The convenience and taste of natural nut butters will more than make up for what you give up in indulgent dips and snacks.
The ideal guidance for the mix of carbs, fat and protein is for your plate to have one quarter filled with high protein foods, one quarter with carbs and the remaining half with high fibre vegetables and fruits.
Here's a great recipe for a high protein morning shake that you can drink everyday to give your morning a kickstart.
High Protein Foods for Muscle GainYou know what they say, 'Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym'. Agree?
Your diet is the catalyst to your workout. Eggs, chicken breast, fish, nuts, and lentils all contribute to the necessary protein intake. Unlike the people who wish to lose weight, your diet has a little more flexibility and more quantity. In fact, if you're building muscle mass you need more fat so eat your eggs whole, not the white alone.
Working to gain muscle means there is room for experimenting with your food! Protein-up (if there is such a phrase) those chicken breasts and lentil soups with chilli chutney peanut butter. It's mildly spicy, trans-fat-free, high in protein and super delicious! Opt for the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter instead of the Unsweetened (it's only 3kcal more but its yum).
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens when you eat the ideal amount of protein?
It reflects in your strong muscles, hair, healthy skin, and most importantly in your energy levels! You'll be surprised at how much fuller you feel after every meal if you eat enough protein. Who doesn't want that?
Which source of protein is good, plant or animal-sourced?
Plant-based proteins individually lack one or two amino acids, which is why they're seen as incomplete proteins. However, combining various plant proteins with other food can give you a balanced and flavourful protein profile. For example peanut butter & bread together give you all 9 amino acids - that's why it's considered a near perfect breakfast.
Animal proteins are good and have more protein per gram, but many of us can't differentiate between high-protein and high-fat meats. Yes, meat is a great source of protein and is delicious but, it's also a leading cause of heart diseases. So when choosing what to eat, moderation and natural/organic sources are the best.
Do I need protein during pregnancy?
You need even more protein during your pregnancy because your body needs it for tissue development and foetal growth. It is also preferred that the protein come from food sources during this time so eat a lot of nuts, peanut butter or almond butter, and if you're having sweet cravings you can try some healthier dessert options.