Proteins are one of the essential macronutrients required by our body. Even after being a crucial nutrient, most of us are protein deficit. As data quoted by IDA (Indian Dietetic Association), 93% of the Indian population is unaware of the daily protein requirements. In terms of deficiency, 84% of Indian vegetarian and 65% of non-vegetarian diets are protein deficit. Lack of proteins not only results in poor muscle health but can also alter certain biochemical processes.We have a variety of protein-rich foods available around us. In addition, protein supplements have also gained popularity in recent years, as a convenient way to support diet and fulfil the daily protein needs. We all are aware of how proteins are important for us but there are certain myths which float around and needs to be addressed as well. Here we are about to debunk some of these myths and clarify the facts.
- PROTEIN IS ONLY REQUIRED BY BODY BUILDERS
Protein is vital for all of us. Even if the person is a strength or endurance athlete or not, we all need proteins. It helps in muscle development and repairing of tissues but it is also required for other functions as well. They are needed for all enzymatic actions, hormonal functions of the body, maintain pH of the body, blood clotting, formation of antibodies to boost immune health, provide structure to bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and hair, and many more.
2. EATING TOO MUCH PROTEIN CAN CAUSE KIDNEY DAMAGE
This is a widespread myth that excess of protein intake can cause kidney disease but the fact has an entirely different picture. Excess protein intake is harmful to the people who are already suffering from any liver or kidney disorders. But excess intake of protein cannot progress to kidney disease in a perfectly healthy individual. Researchers have indicated that protein restriction is appropriate during renal diseases but there is no detrimental effect of high protein intake on renal function in a healthy person.
3. EAT LESS PROTEIN TO PROMOTE WEIGHT LOSS
During weight loss, ideally the aim is to loose fat and preserve muscle mass. And eating less protein will not only result in muscle loss but also won’t help in losing fat. So it is recommended to maintain an adequate protein intake with less of carbohydrates and fats. Avoid refined carbs and saturated fats, not proteins.
4. THERE IS NO RECOMMENDATION OF PROTEIN, YOU CAN CONSUME AS MUCH AS YOU WANT
Yes, it is a fact that protein is required by all of us but every individual should consume it as per recommendation and body needs. Protein also provides calories. 1 gram of protein provides 4 Kcal of energy. Protein consumed more than the required amount does not get utilized by our body and gets deposited in the form of fat.
5. THERE IS NO NEED TO TAKE PROTEIN RICH DIET IF YOU ARE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS
Protein supplements are tasty, convenient, easy to consume, provides all essential amino acids and are easily absorbed. However, the purpose of consuming a protein supplement is not to make it a substitute for a diet. They are perfect to fulfil the gaps in between dietary intake and requirement. Combining different proteins sources provides other essential micronutrients as well and adds variety to our diet.
6. NOT ALL PROTEIN SOURCES ARE GOOD
It is good to include proteins from both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources. Each source has its own benefits besides providing other nutrients as well. Eggs, fish, chicken are an excellent protein source but low-fat dairy products like milk, curd, yoghurt and paneer are also a great way of making a diet rich in protein.
To conclude, protein alone will not act as a magic wand. Consuming protein as per your daily need won’t cause any harm but it has to be taken wisely and combined with proper diet and workout to achieve the fitness goal.
7. ENDURANCE ATHLETES DO NOT NEED PROTEIN
Endurance athletes have different nutritional needs as compared to strength athletes. They need more of carbohydrates to derive energy for a longer duration but endurance athletes need proteins too for boosting immunity, muscle growth and repair, and enhance performance. Prolonged deficiency of protein might cause muscle loss, breakdown of muscle tissue, anaemia and weak immunity.
8. LACK OF CARBOHYDRATES IS THE MAJOR CAUSE OF MALNUTRITION
This is another myth which is very prevalent. Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) can arise from a prolonged insufficiency of protein intake and calories. It can also lead to severe diseases like marasmus and kwashiorkor.
- Indian vegetarian diets 84% protein deficient: IDA(2018).Retrieved from https://www.deccanherald.com/national/indian-vegetarian-diets-84-683267.html
- Perappadan, B.S. (2015).80 % Indian diets are protein deficient: Survey.Retreieved from https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/80-indian-diets-are-protein-deficient-survey/article7290278.ece
- Martin, W. F., Armstrong, L. E., & Rodriguez, N. R. (2005). Dietary protein intake and renal function. Nutrition & metabolism, 2, 25. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-25
- Friedman, A.N.(2004).High-protein diets: potential effects on the kidney in renal health and disease.Am J Kidney Dis.44(6),950-62.