Hectic schedules and lack of awareness about protein sources may often lead to poor muscle health, fatigue and even illness which can raise a serious cloud on our ability to function normally or lead an active lifestyle. Hence, it is essential to maintain good muscle health to perform various activities ranging from breathing, movement of limbs, lifting of objects to pumping of blood.
Muscles are the fulcrum that support every function in our body. If you can start an exercise routine which is appropriate to your age and lifestyle, you have gained some ground in improving your muscle health, suggests Dr Nandan Joshi, head nutrition science and medical affairs, Danone India.
Another critical requirement for healthy muscles is a protein-rich diet, as protein is the core component of muscles. Another fact that must be borne in mind is that protein needs to be consumed every day since it is not stored in our body as reserve. An average adult needs approximately 55 grams of protein every day.
If you are a vegetarian, the protein conundrum gets deeper as it is not only important to consume adequate quantity, but quality protein is also as crucial. Vegetarian sources of protein have lower amount of amino acids like lysine, threonine or methionine which directly impacts the quality of the protein.
However, certain vegetarian foods are blessed with high quantity of protein. You must include these foods in your diet to ensure that you consume adequate quantity and quality of protein.
Milk, cheese, and yogurt
Everybody is aware about the benefits of consuming milk, which is one of the best sources of protein. About 100 gm of milk has 3.4 gram of protein. The best part is, milk can be used to create vegetarian foods like paneer and dahi.
Cheese is rich in protein, and is perfect for muscle building and maintenance because it also contains calcium and vitamin B12.
Plain, natural yogurt is primarily made up of protein and carbohydrate, with varied fat content. It contains healthy bacterial cultures, which are good for your digestive system and overall well-being.
Pulses have long been accepted as staple food in India. Every state has their own favourite that people consume daily. They are a rich source of plant-based protein which is easily digestible. For example, 100 grams of pulses have 22 grams of protein.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds can be consumed at any hour during the day. Nuts like almonds are a rich source of protein; with 10 almonds containing approximately 2.5 grams of protein. Most nuts provide about 23 gram of protein per 100 gram. High protein seeds include, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, drupes like coconut and nuts like peanuts, almonds and cashews.
Most vegetarian sources of protein don’t have enough quality and quantity of protein. Since addition of protein-rich non-vegetarian sources like meat, fish and eggs isn’t an option, vegetarians can opt for protein supplements which are now available in different formats like powders, biscuits and bars. However, choosing the right protein supplement that is low on sugar is critical.