Nutrition Month: Where Is Protein In A Typical Indian Diet?

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India Protein Paradox, Protein 101
September 8, 2020

Right To Protein Team

Nutrition Month: Where Is Protein In A Typical Indian Diet?

India’s culinary diversity is known the world over – every region, state, community, and religion has its own characteristic modification to the Indian cuisine. Some are branded by their subtle taste of unique spices or grains while others are known for the use of different fruits and vegetables that are specific to a region. When it comes to homemade meals, each household plays favorites. Don’t we love to dig into rajma chawal on a Sunday, and hate it when our moms force us to eat karela (bitter gourd) or lauki (snake gourd)? There’s also the customary practice of eating sweets after a meal, and there are always takers for that!

But as diverse as they may be, there are several commonalities that exist when it comes to the regular Indian diet – a critical one being the lack of protein consumption.

What does India eat?

Dal, roti, rice are common components of the staple Indian meal, believed to be enough to meet daily macronutrient needs. But are they enough to meet daily protein needs? Not really. But, 81% of Indian mothers incorrectly believe so. In fact, dal and pulses, which are perceived as heavy in protein content, provide only one-tenth of the average individual’s protein requirements. The Protein Paradox study also revealed that mothers overestimated the protein content in common food items such as milk, green leafy vegetables, fruits, roti, and curd which are low in their protein content. As a result, dairy and pulses remain the primary sources of protein in majority Indian households, while other foods tend to be ignored.

This misconception, when coupled with an inability to identify the correct functions and sources of protein, leads to households in India holding back protein intake to a pinch with basic staples.

From the animal-based sources, 92% of people consume milk daily and 48% consume egg, while only 34% consume other dairy products (cheese, paneer, butter, buttermilk, curd), only 25% consume seafood and only 24% consume chicken. This is a clear indication that Indian households tend to undervalue the actual sources of protein in both plant-based and animal-based diets.

What can be done to move Indian households towards protein sufficiency?

According to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) given by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for Indians, the average Indian adult needs 0.8g-1gm per kg ideal body weight of protein, although the average dietary intake is only close to 0.6 g per kg ideal body weight.

Unfortunately, low protein consumption dominates parts of rural India. This is attested by The Food and Nutrition Security Analysis undertaken by the Government of India and The World Food Programme, which found out that in rural areas, the average protein consumption is 47.5 grams/day (lower than the ICMR norm of 48g for rural areas) and in urban areas, the average protein consumption is 47 grams/day (lower than the ICMR norm of 50g for urban areas).

These statistics highlight the need to disseminate the right information on proteins and finding appropriate solutions to encourage citizens to fulfill daily protein intake. This also serves as a starting point for the Right To Protein initiative and its overall mission to educate the people of India on the importance of proteins, champion its sufficiency and trigger a long-term behavior change among individuals and communities at all levels – starting this Nutrition Month! 

 

Protein-O-Meter

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. Protein-O-Meter will take your body-composition and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well!

Protein Index

Find out all about whole foods that are protein heroes! Achieve your fitness goals by finding out just how much protein you should incorporate to stay nourished.

Protein-O-Meter

The amount of protein you need depends on your weight, goals, and lifestyle. Protein-O-Meter will take your body-composition and activity level into account to estimate your protein needs. Start with the number given by the calculator, see how that makes you feel, and try adjusting your protein level up or down to see what amount makes you feel good and perform well!

Protein Index

Find out all about whole foods that are protein heroes! Achieve your fitness goals by finding out just how much protein you should incorporate to stay nourished.

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