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Updated: October 24, 2009 17:29 IST

What’s on your plate?

S. Basu
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GET YOUR FILL: Chicken is a rich source of protein Photo: SANDEEP SAXENA
The Hindu GET YOUR FILL: Chicken is a rich source of protein Photo: SANDEEP SAXENA

Proteins pep you up, support growth, and help meet the demands for a physique specific to sport

Are we eating enough protein? Many of my clients travel abroad for their matches and tournaments. They eat a lot more meat outside the country, and on returning, tell me that the boys out there are huge, and intimidate them by their sheer size.

So, what do our boys lack? Good-quality protein, found in meat. But, how often does an Indian non-vegetarian eat meat? Our immune system, muscle repair, growth, muscular development, blood cells, skin, hair… all require protein.

The demands for protein increase when you embark on a high-intensity workout. Young children and adolescents need more to support growth as well as meet the demands for a physique specific to sport. Every age group needs this essential nutrient along with a host of others.

Analyse your meals from today. Every single meal should have either milk or milk products, mushroom, lentils, legumes, meat, fish, chicken, egg, nuts or seeds.

Athletes who have specific targets of increasing muscle bulk or strength need 1.5 to 2 gm/kg body weight of protein, assuming the calorie intake and protein quality are adequate. For adolescents, the protein requirements are 2 gm/kg body weight while for sedentary individuals its 0.8-1 gm/kg body weight.

For gains in strength, workouts need to be combined with the right diet. The timing of protein intake and the quality of protein consumed do make a huge difference to the final results. Consume protein before and after workouts for better strength and muscle gains. Provision of adequate carbs is vital to spare the protein for muscle building work.

Peppy proteins also keep us alert, whereas carbs release the neuro transmitter serotonin, which makes one sleepy or relaxed. Being a vegetarian is not a disadvantage provided your meals are well balanced with right meal combinations.

Carl Lewis, Martina Navratilova, Edwin Moses were all vegetarians. The next time you sit for a meal, ensure that you have a sizeable chunk of protein on your plate!

(The author is CSCS (NSCA), C.H.E.K. and expert trainer)

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