Protein: The Building Block of Life

Protein: The Building Block of Life

An interview with Ms. Taranjeet Kaur, Metabolic Balance® Coach & Sr. Nutritionist, AktivHealth™

Q. How important are proteins for our well-being?

A: The word protein is derived from the Greek word ‘proteos’ meaning the first and most important. Proteins are essential structural components of all cells in our bodies. Different tissues- skin, muscles, bones, and organs- are all made of proteins using different amino acid combinations. The fundamental importance of proteins to the living cells and human beings has been long appreciated.

The necessity and importance of proteins are:

  • Building blocks: proteins build and repair tissues that are constantly undergoing breakdown and change.
  • Regulator of body processes: as enzymes and hormones, they make various chemical reactions happen e.g. an amino acid, L-arginine that may play a role in heart health by helping to keep blood vessels open.
  • Immunity builders: as antibodies, amino acids help protect from disease-carrying bacteria and viruses. They also help build our defense mechanism.
  • Transport carriers: Proteins are in cells and membranes working as transport carriers e.g. hemoglobin, a protein transports oxygen. Proteins also supply our body with energy in case we do not consume enough carbohydrates and fats. If we consume enough calories from carbohydrates and fats, proteins can be saved for their unique function to build and repair body tissues. (1g protein =4 Kcal).

Q. How much protein is required by an average person daily?

A: The recommended protein allowance for adults is 0.8g/Kg body weight/day. This amounts to 56g of protein per day for a 70 kg man and about 48g per day for a 60 kg woman.

Q. People who work out, play sports or do more strenuous activity need more protein. How much more protein do they need?

A: People, who are more active or are sports-oriented, need more protein. The protein requirement for them may go up to 1.2 to 1.5g per kg bodyweight which amounts to nearly 105g for a 70 Kg male. Several factors can increase the amount of protein needed including the duration and intensity of exercise, degree of training and current energy and protein intake of diet.

Q. What foods should be made part of one’s regular diet to ensure one gets sufficient protein?

A. Legumes, beans, sprouts, eggs, poultry, cheese, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, etc. should be part of one’s regular diet to ensure a sufficient intake of protein. Our Metabolic Balance® program recommends the appropriate quality and quantity of protein depending on an individual’s body chemistry. This revolutionary nutrition program advocates having one type of protein per meal and three different types of protein each day to comply with the varied amino acid requirement of the body. It helps us to decide which protein suits our system and how much of it is required by us individually, for example, milk may not be good for everyone; it may help one person but can produce digestive problems in the other.

Q. Can too much protein be harmful?

A. Yes, beyond the requirement, protein does not store as protein in the body. In fact, the excess protein gets converted to fat. High protein intake can lead to dehydration and also increases the risk of gout, kidney afflictions, osteoporosis as well as some forms of cancer. Besides this, proteins should be well distributed at each meal. It is not good to concentrate on high protein only at dinner or lunch. Moreover, having one protein at a time, as advocated by Metabolic Balance®, helps in better absorption of proteins. Mixing of proteins such as curd and meat together leads to wastage of amino acids which further leads to over-acidification of the body that may cause osteoporosis and other harmful effects.

Q. Can a protein diet help lose weight?

A. It is a well-established fact that proteins curb your hunger and make you feel full. In fact, proteins have a greater and prolonged satiating effect as compared to carbohydrates and fats. This is the reason that if you have proteins in each of your meals, you have lesser cravings for snacks and other such food items. Eating proteins also helps boost your metabolism and, if taken in appropriate amounts as per your body requirements, help you lose weight with a good percentage of fat loss.

Q. Can you give us a list of products and their protein content? For instance, how much protein is found in a glass of milk or one egg?

Food item with Quantity                                     Protein
30g Legumes/ Beans                                                   7g
1 Egg                                                                                6g
30g Almonds                                                                 6g
240 ml Milk                                                                    8g
75g Cottage Cheese                                                      8g
120g Chicken Breast                                                   32g
120g Fish (Salmon)                                                     31g

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