Proteins are found in many foods like eggs, all meats, beans, etc. Every time you eat an egg or a piece of chicken or chickpeas the protein in the food breaks in the body releasing the amino acid loose.
These amino acids go to different parts of the body and become a part of your organs and muscles. These then join again to form more proteins of varying lengths. These proteins help the body to function well and stay healthy.
The amino acids can be put into two groups
Essential amino acids – Are only present in food and not made by the body. They should be provided to the body through the food.
Non-essential amino acids which can be made by the body and do not need to come from the food we eat.
A protein food can contain a combination of 1 or more essential and non- essential amino acids. It can contain only essential or only non-essential amino acids.
There are plant and animal sources of protein. Popular plant sources of protein include:
Make sure you get all essential and non-essential amino acids from the foods in your diet.
How can one make sure they are getting all amino acids in their meals?
Animal sources of protein have all the amino acids needed by the body. Plant sources usually lack one or few of the essential amino acids. This makes it challenging for vegetarians and vegans.
The best solution for vegans and vegetarians is to consume proteins from a variety of sources or combine foods from different sources. Here are some examples on how you can combine foods:
Grains like barley, buckwheat, oats, rice, and wheat do not contain an amino acid called Lysine. But they contain lots of Methionine and Cysteine.
Legumes like beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, peanuts, and soybeans do not contain methionine and contain lots of lysine.
Example food combinations for meals:
Other ways to meet protein needs of the body
Looking at the list of protein sources mentioned above, measuring out quantities of foods and paying attention to the nutrition content can be challenging for women with busy lives.
Protein supplementation can help meet the protein needs of the body. Protein shakes are an easy and convenient way to make sure you meet your protein requirements. People who are looking to lose weight often use protein shakes as meal replacements. A high protein diet can help by filling your stomach in large quantities, reduce appetite, burn fat, and build muscle mass to lose weight.
The market is flooded with several protein supplement options. The protein supplements available in the market can be put into two categories.
Proteins are available in the form of cereal bars, chocolate bars, powders to name a few. Among all, the most common is the powder format as protein supplements for weight loss. The most common kinds of protein powders are listed below.
Whey protein powder for weight loss is sold and consumed by fitness enthusiasts. Whey protein is a liquid that is formed when cheese is manufactured milk or whenever you leave yoghurt to set the clear liquid you see floating on top is whey. This liquid is dried to make a powder which is mixed with other ingredients to be sold.
Casein is also a milk-based protein. This protein is removed from milk to make a powder.
Egg white protein
The egg whites are eggs are dried to make a powder and sold in the market. Egg whites contain 67% of the protein contained in eggs
This protein is naturally present in our body/ in our skin. The supplement is made from a variety of animal sources like the skin and bones of cattle, pigs, fish scales and eggshells.
Plant sources are also gaining popularity today. It is usually consumed to improve the elasticity skin, burn fat, and build more muscle and more.
This is a protein present in soybean. The protein is removed and sold as a powder/ flour.
Pea protein is made from Pisum sativum or the yellow pea. The protein is removed by special methods.
Confused about which protein to choose?? Which one is the best??
Here are some ways you can judge if a protein supplement is of good quality and is good for you.
Protein quality- How much protein is there in the supplement?
The ideal protein product should contain all contain all essential amino acids and BCAAs(Branched Chain Amino Acids). BCAAs are forms of the amino acid which can help build muscles.
Whey, casein, and egg proteins – They are all complete proteins containing all the amino acids and BCCAs which are ideal to build muscles.
Soy and Pea proteins – Are also complete proteins containing essential amino acids (ones not made by the body) and contains BCAAs.
Protein powders should be easy on the digestive system.
Whey and casein – Both are milk based. It might not suit many because whey protein contains lactose (component of milk and milk products). Lactose intolerance is seen in 60 to 65 % of the Indian population. People whose bodies cannot digest or break down lactose which is a sugar contained in milk. It is characterized by bloating and severe stomach pain/ digestive issues.
Egg protein can increase your cholesterol levels.
Pea protein and soy protein- They are plant based and easier on the digestive system. Soy protein may not be helpful for people who have soy allergies.
A plant-based protein source like pea protein can be consumed by a greater number of people or suits a greater number of people. It can cater to the protein needs of a larger population. It is a great source of protein for people who are lactose intolerant. It contains natural fibers and can reduce the release of Ghrelin. Ghrelin is a protein in the body which makes you feel hungry. Less of Ghrelin means that you feel full for longer period of time.
When one tries to remove proteins from these animal and plant sources a lot of good ingredients get removed or destroyed.
Whey and other sources of protein is highly processed and, in the process, loses vitamins and minerals. The manufacturing process is not eco-friendly as well.
Pea protein is less processed, so it contains many naturally occurring plant vitamins and minerals. Vitamin K (found especially in fresh peas), manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, and B Vitamins are found in pea protein. The manufacturing process is also greener and has less impact on the environment.
Other ingredients in the protein supplement product?
One of the main reasons why people consume protein is to meet the challenge of losing weight which is appetite control. The protein powder should make you feel full to reduce your calorie or food intake to lose weight. Most commercially available protein supplements in the market do not contain the protein source alone. They contain artificial sweeteners like acesulfame k, sucralose, aspartame, and maltodextrin. These offer less satiety and make you feel hungry too quickly. They are also harmful to health and liver.
Stay clear of such products! A lot of these products do not list all their ingredients on the label.
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