68% Indians have protein deficiency, says doctor

Chennai: Did you know that seven out of 10 Indians, that is 71 per cent, have poor muscle health? It is a fact that 68 per cent Indians are protein-deficient because of the belief that protein is required only for body builders.

Danone India, a nutrition products manufacturing company, aims to spread awareness on muscle health by changing attitudes and practices around consumption of protein-rich diets and an active lifestyle.

It observed Protein Week 2019 (24 to 30 July) and organised workshops to sensitise people on the importance of protein consumption.

In an email chat with News Today, Dr Nandan Joshi, head, Nutrition Science and Medical Affairs, Danone India, said, “The most common misconception encountered is that protein is required by body builders and people who are into heavy physical activity. It is important to understand that protein is required by everyone and that, too, in amounts close to one gm per kilogram of body weight, per day.”

Dr Nandan Joshi

While explaining the connection between protein consumption and body-building, Dr Joshi said, “Body composition broadly refers to the amount and distribution of body fat and the amount and composition of lean mass. If a person wishes to lose weight, ideally, it should be losing fat mass and not muscle mass. For that, it is important to take adequate protein while on a weight loss regime. Also, high protein diets are known to promote satiety and thereby help control appetite and hunger pangs. On the other hand, body building actually means ‘building muscle mass’ which is supported by intake of adequate, good quality protein on a daily basis, to promote muscle gain.”

Talking about the nutrients in a south Indian meal, he said, “It is better to evaluate each diet and then make a comment on if it contains all the nutrients in the right amount or not. A typical vegetarian south Indian meal would include rice, pulse (in the form of sambar), curd and vegetable curry. It would contain essential nutrients but we cannot say for sure whether all the nutrients required would be obtained in adequate amounts.”

As per ICMR guidelines, an ideal, balanced diet consists of:
* Cereals and millets – 30g each
* Vegetables – 100g each
* Fruits – 100g
* Milk and milk products – 100g each
* Pulses – 30g each for vegetarians and 30g for non-vegetarians
* Fats/oils and sugar – 5g each

When asked about the role of vegan diet in body building, he said, “When consumed in the right proportion and combination, vegan diets, too, could help with body-building. Foods like soy and soya products like tofu, soya milk and other vegan protein sources like nuts, pulses and legumes in combination with cereals can help in meeting the daily protein requirements. Supplements with vegetable or nut protein like peanut could also be helpful in fill the protein gap that could be encountered with a vegan diet if not properly monitored.”

He says, “Today’s sedentary lifestyle is having a highly negative impact on the health of not only the current but future generation, too. There is a sharp increase in metabolic and lifestyle disorders like diabetes, heart diseases, cancers and so on. It is high time people focussed on their diet and engaged in physical activity at least for 60 minutes per day.”

* In a vegetarian diet, protein can be obtained from sources like – milk and milk products, legumes and pulses, whole grains and nuts*In non-vegetarian diet, protein-rich sources include egg, fish, meat and poultry


Besan, oats, omelette with vegetables, shallow fried fish fillets, chicken soup/salad, sprouts sandwich are good protein-rich foods.