Understanding India’s Protein Psych: Why Is Protein Not A Priority?

Four Protein Superfoods That Are Frequently Ignored

India Protein Paradox, Protein 101
August 25, 2020

Right To Protein Team

Understanding India’s Protein Psych: Why Is Protein Not A Priority?

There is an overload of information today on the web, so much so that it sometimes gets difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction. One of the real challenges that exist today is food misinformation, since fake news about nutrition can spread amongst people in no time. One such nutrient that is surrounded by myths and misconceptions is Protein, as evidenced in a recent study commissioned by the Right to Protein initiative.

The in-depth study has found that there are several myths and misconceptions that come to play, eventually leading to protein-deficient food choices by majority Indian households today. As per the survey, over 70% of the mothers (the primary decision makers regarding a household’s food intake) had incorrect beliefs that protein is hard to digest, leads to weight gain, is expensive, and is only needed by those who are physically active. There are also other associated beliefs such as protein should only be eaten during breakfast and must not be consumed at night. Some of the mothers surveyed also believe that controlling calories is more important than consuming protein. Such beliefs snowball into the under consumption of protein in daily diets.

BUSTING THE MYTHS

Protein is a critical macronutrient, and contributes to the overall health, growth and immunity in the body. It is important to move beyond the notion that our staple diets are enough to meet our daily protein requirements. In fact, much needs to be done to correctly identify protein-rich food sources – during the survey most mothers were only able to identify three out of 11 protein-rich foods presented to them. Contrary to popular belief, sources of this macronutrient are easily available in the form of both animal and plant protein, in foods like eggs, fish, chicken, poultry, milk, lentils, and cottage cheese, amongst others.

So, if you want to embark on a journey towards protein sufficiency, let’s begin by busting some myths!

Myth 1: High Protein leads to weight gain – Interestingly, mothers who practice an active lifestyle and exercise at least 2-3 times a week, strongly believed that high protein intake leads to weight gain. As per the survey, among those who believe high protein leads to weight gain, 85% believe that they need to control calories intake in their diets, as opposed to including protein.

Truth: Protein breaks down slower than carbohydrates, so it helps you feel fuller for longer. Eating enough protein helps you replenish your muscle health, which keeps your metabolism going. Plus, there’s an additional advantage – focusing on protein can lead you to swap junk food for healthier options such as lean meat, dairy, nuts, seeds and legumes. But one must remember that overconsumption/ over-eating of protein rich foods or any other food is not advisable; adequate protein consumption is the key.

Myth 2: Protein-rich foods are expensive – As per the survey, 79% of mothers believe that protein fortified foods are expensive, and amongst these, 87% believe that lack of protein will not impact their overall health. This trend was earlier ratified by the Indian Consumer Market 2020 report that suggested that Indians spend only one-third of their food budgets on protein-rich foods.

Truth: Not all protein-rich food items are expensive. The daily diet of Indians includes basic foods like dal, grains, yoghurt, soy, paneer and egg that contains good amounts of protein and are known to be protein rich foods, and are at the same time, cost-effective. Other protein rich food sources that cost on a higher end are quinoa, salmon or shellfish etc. can be every once in a while as occasional indulgence.

Myth 3: Carbohydrates are more important than protein for energy – 84% mothers surveyed believe in this myth, because they wrongly perceive certain foods to be protein-rich, when they aren’t. A case in point being rice, which is loaded with carbohydrates, but mothers believe it is nutritious and has protein in adequate quantities

Truth: Protein rich foods are traditionally superior when compared to carbohydrates as an energy source. Additionally, consuming protein rich foods gives us an added advantage of building, repairing tissues and helping fight infection.

Myth 4: Vitamin is more crucial than protein for children – A whopping 87% of the mothers believe that vitamins are more critical for a child’s growth than protein. This isn’t true, because vitamin deficiency can still be tested and taken care of. In the case of protein, deficiency begins to crop up in the form of extreme symptoms like loss of muscle, hair fall, swollen and pale skin. This is why it is important to provide the body with enough protein, so that you have a long-lasting and well-rounded health!

These statistics highlight the need to disseminate the right information on proteins and finding appropriate solutions to encourage citizens to fulfill their 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.

So the next time you come across these myths and misconceptions, do your part as a nutritionally aware citizen and exercise your Right to Protein!

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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