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Protein Rich Foods - Building A Healthy Foundation – One Protein Brick At A Time

Wednesday, August 04, 2010
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The Important Role Of Protein Rich Foods / Foods Rich In Protein on Our Health

The importance of proteins in human development, growth and muscle healing has been clearly documented, yet many individuals do not consume protein rich foods  in adequate amounts to ensure good health. This is especially true in the case of vegetarians who do not benefit from high protein foods, non-vegetarian foods and care must be taken to ensure their diet is customized to provide the daily recommended amounts.

Each cell in our body has proteins in the form of amino acids, and these play a significant role in helping our body repair and make new cells. Proteins are important for growth and development during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy as they make up a significant part of the skin, muscles, organs, and glands. Protein is also found in all body fluids, except urine.

Of the two types of dietary proteins, `complete proteins' contain all of the nine essential amino acids which the human body cannot synthesize and must therefore get from food, and are found primarily in the following types of protein rich foods - animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products (yogurt and cheese). Soybeans are the sole plant proteins that also fall in this category.

Incomplete proteins lack one or more of the essential amino acids needed by our bodies. They are derived mainly from plant sources such as beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and grains; as well as a small amount are found in vegetables.

Incomplete proteins can be combined with other plant or animal proteins to form complete proteins. Rice and beans, rice and lentil, idli/ dosa and sambhar, milk and wheat cereal, pasta and cheese and cheese sandwiches are good examples of protein combination's which yield complete protein rich foods.

When choosing protein rich foods, it is preferable to select lean meat, poultry without skin, fish, dried beans, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products more often. These are the protein choices that are the lowest in fat.

Very high intake of protein can over time be a burden on the kidneys; it can lead to osteoporosis and in susceptible individuals increase risk of developing kidney stones and gout. A high intake of protein from red meat or shellfish also raises the risk of elevated cholesterol levels.

Sustained inadequate protein rich foods intake over time leads to poor growth, loss of muscle tissue, skin problems, increased risk of infection due to poor immunity, early fatigue and listlessness.

The importance of a nutritionally balanced diet that provides adequate protein is therefore critical.

So, how much quantity of protein rich foods should we consume daily?
The amount of recommended daily protein rich foods varies with age and gender.
 Age Grams/day Grams/kilograms/day
 1-3 years
 13 g/day
 1.10 g/kg/day
 4-8 19 g/day
 0.95 g/kg/day
 9-13 34 g/day
 0.95 g/kg/day

 52 g/day
46 g/day
0.85 g/kg/day
0.85 g/kg/day
Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board: Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein and amino acids. Washington DC, 2002, National Academy Press. 

The following are the recommended serving sizes of protein rich foods for:
Children 1 to 6 years of age: 2 to 4 ounces (60-120g) of cooked meat, fish and poultry in a day (about the size of a deck of playing cards)
Adolescents 13-18yrs of age: 5.5 to 7 ounces (170-210g) of cooked meat, fish or poultry in a day.

Note: The following may also be substituted for 1 ounce of meat, fish or poultry: 1 egg, 2 tbsp peanut butter, or ½ cup cooked legumes.

Approximate protein content of some commonly eaten protein rich foods:
FoodProtein content in grams
Cheese, 1 oz
Chicken, 1 oz
Hamburger patty, 3 oz cooked21g
Beans (Kidney, lentils, garbanzo), ½ cup cooked7g
Milk, low fat, 1cup8g
Egg, 1 whole7g
Yogurt, 2/3 to 1 cup8g
Peanut butter, 2 tbsp7g
Peas, ½ cup4g
Edamame, ½ cup7g
Tofu, ½ cup7g
Idli, 1
Sambhar, 1 cup
Fish, cooked by steaming or dry heat, 1 oz7g
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 1 oz7g
The more active your child, the greater their need for protein rich foods, please contact one of our nutritionists if your child is in competitive sports to find out protein requirements before, during, and after a sports event.



User Comments

01 October, 2011 | Habed | Reply

Habed Hi All,

I want to gain weight. For this i have join GYM and doing workout from past 3 months,my height is 5.10 and weight is 50 kg, though going gym but there is no improvement.

Could you please advise me on the above concern.

Thanks in advance.

30 May, 2011 | deeps | Reply

deeps hi. i am deepika and iam 18 years now . my height is 4'11 . am working on my height from past a year but their as been no change in it . can u tell or give sum suggestions regarding how do i work over it.

01 April, 2010 | Poonam Vaswani | Reply

Poonam Vaswani Hello Mr Kumar,
The correct combination of diet, exercises & rest will help you build muscles.
Muscles are mainly protein in nature, so in order to build muscles you need to increase your intake of good quality proteins & consume moderate levels of carbohydrates & fats. The protein must come from lean sources. If you are able to consume adequate lean protein through food, there is no need for protein supplements. If you are a non vegetarian, you could include foods like, egg white, fish & poultry (without skin). For vegetarians, lentils, beans, sprouts, soya, nuts, skim milk, cottage cheese, curd & whey make great protein sources.
Other than diet, weight training plays an important role in building muscles.
Rest is very important for recovery when you are weight training.
Thank You for your query.
Poonam Vaswani

27 August, 2011 | Sanjay | Reply

Sanjay Hi Poonam,
Am 31 and my weight is 70 and height is 5'6. i am working out in a gym for approx 1 hr nowadays and want to build up good muscles. Can you please recommend appropriate diet for me. I am a Non Vegetarian.
Morning :
Afternoon :
Evening :
Night :
Also i workout around 8 pm after coming from office. what do i need to take before going to gym.

29 August, 2011 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Hello Mr Sanjay,
In order to build muscles, one needs the right combination of diet, exercise & rest.
In terms of diet, you need to increase your intake of good quality proteins & keep carbohydrate & fat intake at moderate levels.
Since you are a non vegetarian, to get good quality protein you should include egg whites for breakfast and some fish or poultry (without skin) at other meals.
Prior to your workout you could eat a banana which will provide you with a sustained supply of energy during the workout.
Post workout you should consume whey which gives you good quality and easily assimilated proteins.
Vegetarian sources of proteins are lentils, beans, sprouts, soya, nuts, skim milk, cheese, cottage cheese, curd, peanut butter & whey.
Other than diet, weight training plays an important role in building muscles.
If you would like us to prepare a personalised plan for you along with regular follow up and continuous guidance from our dietitians, please register on our website and select a package suitable to you.
Thank You
Poonam Vaswani

01 April, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Shobha,
For a correct picture of your child’s intake including protein, it is very important that if you fill in accurate amounts of each food eaten throughout the day. The information you have sent in can lead to a lot of ambiguity. Kindly register on our website which is clinically designed and user friendly, and take the nutritional adequacy test for your child or anybody in your family including yourself. You will get a complete profile of your child’s intake including deficiencies. We can address the problem in a systematic way if anything comes up.
Thank You
Vijayalakshmi Iyengar

01 April, 2010 | senthil kumar | Reply

senthil kumar how to develop our muscle?

19 August, 2009 | meenakshi | Reply

meenakshi Hello Neha,
Thank you for asking this question! as we inadvertantly left out these values in the article....The most recent RDAs set for Indian children by the Expert Committee of the Indian Institute of Medical Research (ICMR) are generally higher than the ones listed above. The requirements for Indian children range between 1.5 to 2 g/kg body weight as opposed to 0.85-1.1g/kg body wt listed for children in the United States.
The protein requirements for various ages per day as recommended by the ICMR are:
1-3yrs: 22g
4-6yrs: 30g
7-9yrs: 41g
10-12yrs: Boys: 54g; Girls: 57g
13-15yrs: Boys: 70g; Girls: 65g
16-18yrs: Boys: 78g; Girls: 63g

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us again!

18 August, 2009 | neha mithal | Reply

neha mithal are the recommended protein intakes as given applicable for the Indian population?

10 August, 2009 | shobha | Reply

shobha My son is 1&1/2 yr old and I give him wheat /nachani/oat/suzi poridge in morning for breakfast, then one chapati with 1 bowl of dal in the lunch, Milk and 2 soya biscuit in evening snaks and 1 bowl of khichadi in the dinner apart from this I give him 1 fruit, papaya/orange/apple or carrot and beetroot alternate day

Is this diet is sufficient for him to get required amount of protein and other nutrients

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