Nutrition – Surprising Sources of Protein

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Eat More Vegetarian Sources of Protein


While animal protein offers many advantages, too much of it may not be the best idea for those with PCOS because experts suspect that excess consumption of commercially produced meat could increase testosterone levels (although these observations have been made in association with infertility rather than PCOS itself).

Including some beans, nuts, and seeds along with meat would offer not only additional (plant-based) protein but some fiber too.


The Amount of Protein Put to Use by Our Body. The differences in the amino acid profiles between plant and animal sources even govern how much of their protein content is used.


Animal Sources:

Because of the similarity between our proteins and those of animals’, eating animal sources of protein gives us amino acids in the proportions we need. That’s why animal-based protein sources, including dairy, eggs, and meat, are highly digestible or have a high biological value of over 90%, which is the percentage that can be absorbed by our body and put towards making the proteins our body needs.


Plant Sources:

Protein from sources such as oats, maize, beans, peas, and potatoes tend to be less easily digestible than animal-based protein, with biological values ranging from 45% to 80%. This is because of the presence of anti-nutrients (compounds that block the absorption of other nutrients), which, in some cases, can be reduced by the method of preparation.


However, when extracted from the source, the biological value of plant-based proteins becomes similar to that of animal-based proteins. This is found in the form of protein supplements such as soy protein isolate, pea protein concentrate, and wheat gluten. Protein in this form is especially helpful for vegans who may not always meet the recommended amount of protein in their diet.


Why we need it:


Since muscles are a very active tissue in our body, they’re constantly in the process of burning calories. In effect, the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn, even when we’re resting. Protein helps build our muscles after working out, especially after endurance exercises.


The recommended amount of protein for a sedentary person is 0.8 g per kg body weight. However, we’d need about 1.2 g protein per kg body weight a day for muscle-building and recovery – although some people may want to take more in order to bulk up.1 Without enough protein, our muscles will heal after workouts, but their building capacity will be limited.


The forms to eat it in:


Whey protein (which makes up 20% of the protein content in milk) is particularly popular among fitness enthusiasts because it’s rich in certain amino acids called branched-chain amino acids (or BCAAs) and digests very fast, both of which are crucial for the repair and growth of lean muscles.


However, India has a high incidence of intolerance to a milk sugar called lactose, often misdiagnosed as other gastrointestinal problems. If you frequently get an uneasy feeling after having dairy products, it could be better to try a whey protein isolate (which has almost all of the lactose removed) or a plant protein.


Those looking to get enough protein from their diet alone can also find BCAAs in animal sources of protein, and some plants too (such as sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tofu, and pumpkin seeds). That said, you might need a lot more of these foods to match the amount in a supplement.


The best time to consume it:


Since our body requires amino acids to be in our blood while we workout itself, it’s best to have a protein-rich meal an hour or two before a workout, so that the food is digested and the amino acids are available. A fast-digesting protein, like whey, can also be used to boost these levels shortly before a workout. Protein can also be taken right after a workout to keep up the levels of amino acids.


Slow-digesting proteins (like plant proteins and the milk protein called casein) can be useful in the late evening because they would provide amino acids for our muscles to recover and repair as we sleep.

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