Ques: Do we need protein?

Firstly, let us understand this –

Main sources of energy for the body are carbohydrates and fats, which are broken down and burned to form calories. Proteins play a critical role in regulating gene expression, supporting the immune system, building musculoskeletal structure, and aiding in repair processes.

While protein is not the body’s primary source of energy, it can be converted into glucose for energy when carbohydrates and fats are not available. The amount of protein required by the body varies based on age, sex, weight, and physical activity levels.

For children, protein can be obtained from dairy products and food. In cases where a child has a low appetite, protein supplements may be recommended by a doctor. Teenagers and young adults who consume a balanced diet usually obtain sufficient protein from food sources. Vegetarians who consume a variety of foods such as legumes, dal, roti, and vegetables do not typically need protein supplements, while non-vegetarians usually get adequate protein from their diet.

Sportsmen require additional protein, depending on the intensity and duration of their exercise regime, as it helps in building and repairing muscles. However, vegetarian athletes with a low appetite may need protein supplements.

Older adults, on the other hand, require more protein to maintain musculoskeletal health, especially as stem cells necessary for the body’s repair and healing processes are produced in the bone marrow. Protein helps to keep bones healthy and strong. Therefore, older adults are advised to consume sufficient protein through diet or supplements.

Ques: Is protein supplementation like whey protein healthy? Why?

It’s important to understand that any raw food such as vegetables, fruits, and seeds are good for our body. Our metabolic machinery is designed to handle these foods best, and any additional processing compromises the nutritional value of the food.

While whey protein is extracted from milk and technically processed, it is an extract and, therefore, unprocessed. As a result, it is metabolized faster and retains its whole nutritional component, making it a brilliant food. However, it’s important to adjust your total calorie intake to account for the extra protein, unless you’re training hard and need the additional calories.

The best time to consume whey protein is on an empty stomach, such as at breakfast or as a late afternoon snack. When consumed in a hunger state, the protein is metabolized faster, allowing extra protein to be immediately converted to glucose for energy/burn.

There are several myths about whey protein consumption that should be dispelled. Firstly, excess protein does not cause kidney damage, as research does not support this notion. Secondly, whey protein is not just for bodybuilders, but for everyone regardless of their activity level. Thirdly, it is not only necessary for sportsmen, but our parents may need it more than our children as they age. Lastly, whey protein is not an unnecessary supplement, but rather food in its purest form.