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Whether you know it or not, proteins are the most essential macronutrients required for maintaining health and achieving fitness. If you have a notion that only bodybuilders need proteins then you should read this article.

To know the importance of anything, we must understand the basics of it.

So, what are proteins?

Proteins are macronutrients that form the components of every living cell. These are complex molecules composed of different amino acids. Proteins are broken down into amino acids during the digestion process and again synthesized in tissues as per need.

There are 22 amino acids required by our body. Of the 22, 10 are essential amino acids meaning they are not synthesized in the body & need to be obtained from the diet. Rest 12 are non-essential amino acids that can be synthesized in the body & hence don’t need to be added through diet.

Proteins are further classified as complete proteins and incomplete proteins based on their essential amino acid composition. Complete proteins contain all the 10 essential amino acids while incomplete proteins lack one or more of the essential amino acids. All animal sources are complete proteins whereas all plant proteins are incomplete proteins.

But, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for vegetarians to get complete proteins. It’s possible to combine two or more sources of incomplete proteins to increase the quality of proteins and derive essential amino acids for vegetarians.

Following food combinations vegetarians can incorporate in their diet:

  • Grains + peas or beans or lentils
  • Rice+ any Dal
  • Rice+ Tofu or Soy
  • Peanut butter spread on bread or chapati
  • Cereal+ Milk

Let’s see why we need proteins?

The primary function of a protein is growth, repair & maintenance of body structures and tissues. Apart from this, they play a major role in the transport of essential substances through the blood, help in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, boosting immunity, manufacturing of hormones, and providing energy when adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fats are not provided by the diet.

How much proteins do we need daily?

It is dependant on 3 things, age, physiological status, and activity levels. RDA of proteins for adults who are sedentary (little or no exercise) is 0.8 gm/kg body weight/ day whereas those who are into bodybuilding, endurance, or strength training require 1 gm to 1.5 gm/kg body weight/day.

 Bodybuilders think supplementing and consuming large amounts of proteins, increases muscle strength and muscle mass however, it’s far from true. Supplementation may have adverse effects on the body hence try to get proteins from natural food sources only.

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