High protein Vegetarian Food is a question mark for beginners and fitness enthusiasts alike.

You are what you eat! It is often assumed that if we strength train or have a vigorous exercise routine then we are non vegetarian fitness freak. Pause over this. As the strength training or exercise ritual has nothing to do with the non vegetarian food. We have been training hard since 9 years flat now, and yes we do not consume non vegetarian food. Then how do we get the energy from?

The Protein Theory:

Studies show that Dietary Reference intake of a person should be 0.80 grams per kg weight of the human body. It is mostly the same for women and men. Well, if I weigh 70 kgs, I need to have a minimum of 56gms of protein in my diet everyday.This is the thumb rule and when it comes to weight loss.

Indian Diet and Protein

It is also observed that Indians eat a very protein deficient diet.The quality and the quantity of proteins which Indians have is very low as compared to the other developed nations. Rural Indian diet is more of carbohydrates, the major energy sourcing food, than the proteinaceous food. And Urban Indian population has marginally more Protein incorporated in their diet than their rural people.

Protein and Meat:

Proteins are mostly considered analogous to non vegetarian food. And even though we can’t deny the fact that non vegetarian food is proteinaceous, there are amazing options in vegetarian food, you may consider before declaring it “useless”. Moreover you save a lot of time when you cook vegetarian food as compared to when you cook non vegetarian. Perishability of non vegetarian items is also a thing of concern.

What are proteins?

We all know that proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. They help in building up the entire cellular structure into the organs, the organs built into the body we live in. The Protein that we eat gets converted into amino acids. They help in the wear and tear of the body, the muscle recovery, and most importantly to make the hormones, to create the enzymes and other chemicals needed for running the human body.

So, how much protein should we consume for optimum recovery?

As per ncbi ( National Center of Biotechnical Information, USA), the current international recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of per kg of body weight regardless of age. This is a minimum amount which helps maintain nitrogen balance and definitely not optimized for physical activity level ( PAL) of an individual.

What should be the daily distribution of protein between our meals?

The study further shows that though it is important to check the total daily intake, per meal protein quantity is an important factor for preserving muscle mass.

Two to three meals per day with 25-30grams of protein is important for stimulating the muscle protein synthesis for at least 24 hours.

Is more protein the better?

Contrary to the popular belief of “more protein the better” seems to be a flawed approach as per NCBI's published paper ( link at the bottom of the article).
It says that the scientists have investigated the response in relation to body weight and age. It is said that the protein utilization plateaued after taking 0.24 g of whey and egg protein/kg/bw in young men ( Age group of 22 years) and in older men after 0.40 g/kg/bw ( age group of 71) years. It is said that there is no additional benefit of increased protein intake in the above age category. But for the ageing adults the estimated per meal threshold after consuming a plant protein rich meal is unknown, the research says.

Plant protein or animal protein?

There is so much discussion about whether to consume plant protein or animal protein. Plants and animals both are the sources of protein for sure. If you are a vegetarian by birth, you can always rely on vegetarian protein sources as follows.

10 Vegetarian Protein Sources:

Here are some proven best vegetarian protein sources for daily consumption. It has been a while that I have been ignoring protein, from the couple of days I have been tracking my protein intake using My fitness pal app.

Cottage Cheese or Paneer:

Homemade cottage cheese or paneer is the best way to consume protein with your meal
100 gms of paneer gets you 18 gms of protein.

Soya granules or Soya Chunks:

Soya granules or Soya Chunks are available in any store. Soya milk is also a good source of protein
30 gms of soya chunks gets you 15 gms of protein

Legumes

Indian diet is not complete without legumes and sprouts.
200 gms of green gram sprouts gets you 14.2 gms of protein
100 gms of chickpeas gets you 6 gms of protein

Cheese cube

One cheese cube consists of 5 gm protein.

Curd ( Homemade yogurt)

Curd is my goto when it comes to completing my protein intake.
100 gms of homemade curd contains approximately 11 gms of protein

Horse Gram Sprouts

100 gms of horse gram sprouts gets you 22 gms of protein.

Milk

Normal milk is the best post workout drink if you are working out at night. 200 ml of milk gets you around 6 gms of protein.

Almonds

If you are a dry fruit loving person then being on point for your protein requirement is no big thing.
23 almonds constitute around 6 gms of protein

Peanuts

100 gms of raw peanuts gets you 25 gms of protein.

Quinoa / Amaranth:

Quinoa is from amaranth family but is not native to India, amaranth gets you min of 15 gms of protein for one serving of 100 gms approximately.

You have to plan your food to incorporate protein carefully in the plan. You have to make that effort to consume atleast 15 gms of protein every time you eat as mentioned in the study by ncbi above.

What about Protein Shake?

If you are working out rigorously like an athlete you need to top up your protein requirement that too under supervision of a certified trainer or nutritionists.

For a person who does moderate workout 0.8 gm to 1 gm of protein should suffice.

Protein For Life

Protein intake would definitely boost your energies but it should not be eaten at the cost of carbohydrates. All the nutrients work best when consumed at a moderate level.

 

References: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5872778/