Make the best of proteins: Know safe limit for your body; switch to grandparents' diet
Have a diet with low fat, moderate protein, low-to-moderate carbohydrate and lot of fibre.
Anyone on a weight-loss mission will be looking for ways to cut down on food consumption, which means not feeling hungry too soon and also eating less. In other words, feeling satiated early enough while eating.
A good way to do this is to add protein to every meal. “High protein intake has a high satiety value,” said Dr Alan Almeida, consultant-nephrology, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.
Lowering the carbohydrate intake with this effort has added advantage. “High-protein, low-carbohydrate diet has its own benefits. It reduces the appetite as it helps reduce the levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone). It increases the metabolism. So, protein’s ability to suppress appetite, promote fullness and increase metabolism results in weight loss,” said Deepti Tiwari, clinical nutritionist at CK Birla Hospital for Women, Gurugram.
Protein is essential for building, maintaining and repairing the tissues in our body. It is essential for the absorption of iron and calcium. Also, “proteins promote healthy metabolism. Eating plenty of protein-rich foods helps keep the metabolism running,” Tiwari said. So, it is important to get this nutrient in the right amount day after day.
Dals, pulses, soyabean, tofu, nuts and oilseeds are good vegetarian sources of protein. Non-vegetarian sources are milk and milk products, egg whites, lean meat (fish, chicken, etc.), said Almeida.
“Add nuts and seeds in your diet on a daily basis. Have beans, broccoli and eggs. Peanut butter is also a wonderful source of protein. There should always be a combination of plant and animal protein in the diet. Animal protein can come from fish, skinless poultry, lean beef and pork,” Tiwari said. It is good to opt for low-fat dairy products and avoid processed meat.
Dr Sunil Prakash, director, nephrology and renal transplant services, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, said: “Apart from pulses (dal, rajma, chana), legumes and lentils, cereals like rice, wheat, bajra, millets and ragi, especially combination sattu, are examples of protein-rich food.”
KNOW THE SAFE LIMIT
“On a daily basis, a normal person can have protein in the range of 1.5-2 gm per kg of body weight without any harm. It can be increased depending upon his/her physical activity,” Tiwari said.
Overdoing it, however, can put you in trouble. Prakash said: “In the protein-rich diet, kidneys need to work continuously in hyperfiltration mode due to excess intake. This causes increased renal hypertension, nephromegaly and subsequently sclerosis/damage of kidneys in the long term. As kidneys start getting damaged/scarred, over time it causes high BP, which leads to end-organ damage of the heart, eyes, brain, etc.”
People with very high protein intake excrete calcium in their urine. This can lead to weak bones in the long term.
“Some high-protein diets restrict carbohydrate intake so much that they can result in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fibre, which can cause problems such as bad breath, headache and constipation. Some high-protein diets include foods such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, which may increase your risk of heart disease,” Tiwari said.
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BALANCED DIET IS BEST
Almeida advised a balanced meal pattern. He said: “An individual should have a diet with low fat, moderate protein, low-to-moderate carbohydrate and lot of fibre. It is not advisable for anyone to have a high-protein diet (more than his nutritional need).”
“Proteins must provide about 30-35% of calorie needs, 10-15% should come from fats of all three types (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated),” Prakash explained, recommending that we “consume complex carbs like cereals and more roughage as they slow glucose re-
DEALING WITH WEIGHT
Don’t obsess with proteins if you want to lose weight. You must attain your goal through a combination of eating sensibly and getting the required amount of exercise regularly.
Prakash said, “Total calorie intake should be 300 calories less than the estimated requirement per day. For example, if someone needs 1,500 then he/she should take 1,200 calories. Only gradual and consistent weight loss will stay.” If you bank on fad diets to lose weight quickly, it inevitably comes back. You lose muscle and get fat in return. “Regular physical exercise is a must for all, especially middle-aged people. Around 30-40 minutes of daily brisk walk can be a good start. Increase it gradually and remain regular. Avoid unhealthy snacks, even tit bits of biscuits, chips, wafers, etc.,” Prakash advised.
Tiwari said, “There are many things we can do for a healthy life — maintaining the ideal body mass index, getting proper sleep and physical activity, controlling stress levels and a proper diet. I suggest switching to the diet of your grandparents. Start cooking your own food as it will be more nutritious than the ones ordered from outside. Stop eating late at night and packaged, ready-to-eat foods. Don’t skip meals.”
If the evening snack is a must for you, think hummus with salads, cutlets made of kala chana, paneer or soya, she added.