They say a goal without a plan is just a wish. And we agree! Therefore, meal planning is key to a healthier, fitter you.
However, most Indian meals are centered around carbohydrates. The protein content in staple Indian foods is quite low.
Did you know?
80% of Indians are protein deficient, whereas 90% don’t know about their daily protein requirements (1)
We think of protein only as a muscle building nutrient and neglect its other functions that are crucial for a healthy lifestyle.
Importance of Protein
Protein is the vital macronutrient for various functions in the body. Protein helps with enzymes and hormone synthesis and overall growth and development of the muscles and tissues. Other than muscle building, protein promotes the growth and maintenance of hair, nails and skin, helps in wound healing, boosts metabolism, modulates hunger and satiety by keeping oneself full for longer. In turn, protein helps manage weight. (2,3).
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The amount of protein you need depends on various factors like age, gender, activity level, physiological conditions, and overall health status. ICMR recommends a modest amount of 0.8 g/kg body weight protein per day to meet the basic functions of the body for a healthy Indian adult.
If you are a vegetarian, then the requirement is 1g/kg body weight per day as the diet is majorly cereal based with low quality protein.
1.2-2 g/kg body weight protein per day is recommended for minimal, moderate to intensely active individuals.
Pregnancy requires higher protein to support the additional requirement for growth and development of the fetus throughout. Also, lactation period increases the requirement for protein. (4,5)
How to Plan My Meals?
1. 'My Plate' concept
It is the easiest way to understand the principle of balanced meals. The plate recommends sourcing macro and micronutrients from a minimum of 8 food groups per day.
Based on ICMR-NIN my plate concept the intake of cereals should not exceed 45% of total energy, pulses and flesh foods are equal to 17%, fat less than 30% while milk and milk products should be more than or equal to 300 ml/day.
The intake of green leafy vegetables and tubers (excluding potato) should be 350g, fruits should be 150g and nuts 20g per day. The ICMR INDIAB study recommends 20% calories to come from protein for having a healthy lifestyle.
2. High Protein Snacks
While travelling or when bored, avoid munching on high calorie starchy and fatty foods like chips, vada pav, samosas etc. Rather opt for high protein snacks like-
Prolicious Thins & Khakhras
Nuts and seeds
Fruit with unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter
3. Prioritize Protein
Make sure you eat protein source first from your plate before moving to the starches. This will ensure more protein intake and less carbs thus aiding in weight management. Studies have shown that increased protein intake causes a rise in satiety hormones and controls hunger. It also prevents insulin rise and blood sugar spikes post meals.
4. Protein-Centered Meals
Be it breakfast or lunch or dinner, make sure you have at least one good protein source in each meal every day. Try the following hacks-
Top your meals with roasted nuts and seeds.
Pair your meals with curd or raita.
Include paneer, sprouts, tofu, soy in the meals.
Don’t forget to include whole grains and pulses in the diet.
For non-vegetarians, include lean meats, fish, eggs etc. at least 3 times a week.
It is easy to meet your protein needs if you plan your meals smartly and choose protein foods over starch. And if you don’t understand how to do that, Prolicious is here to help you out. At Prolicious, we have nutritionally balanced protein rich everyday foods which can perfectly fit into your routine and help you meet your protein goals.