Proteins

Plant Protein VS Animal Protein

Photo credit: TIMESOFINDIA.COM

Your body is made up of around 20% of protein and protein do not store inside your body. Thus, sufficient daily intake of protein is important to maintain good health. Protein can be obtained from both plant and animal sources. So, for people who are having a vegetarian diet can they get enough protein from only plant sources? What are the pros and cons of plant and animal protein?

Amount and type of amino acid

Protein will be digested into amino acids inside your body. Different type of proteins is build up by different types of amino acids. Animal proteins have a good balance of all types and amount of amino acid that is essential to your body while plant proteins have a low amount of certain essential amino acids.

Nutrients in plant and animal proteins

Protein from animal sources consists of higher amounts of some nutrients (eg. vitamin B12 & D, zinc, iron and omega-3) which are absent in plant-based foods. While on the other hand, plant-based foods consist of antioxidants and nutrients which cannot be found in animal sources.

Risk of diseases from plant and animal proteins

Red meat intake is linked to a higher risk of stroke and heart diseases, especially processed red meat where plant proteins do not link to any risk of disease to the human body.

Health benefits from plant and animal Proteins

Diet rich in plant proteins is linked to a reduced risk of obesity, heart diseases and diabetes. Some animal-based protein (eg. fish, egg and poultry) diet are linked to lower risk of heart diseases, gain in muscle mass, helps in weight loss and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Well-balanced of plant and animal proteins are important to maintain optimal health. While for vegans and vegetarians, a well-balanced diet with a mix of all variety of foods is a must to make sure that they get sufficient proteins.

Healthline. 2020. Animal Vs Plant Protein – What’s The Difference?. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/animal-vs-plant-protein#section5

Are you having too much protein?

Lately, diets with high protein have been a hit, no matter the protein intake comes from a big portion of diet or supplement such as protein shakes. Maybe you are already trying some of the high protein diets but have this ever come into your mind – are you having too much protein and how does that affect your body?

Does too much protein harm your body?

It will be a yes for this question as any imbalanced diet will bring negative effects to your body. High protein diets are possibly related to conditions such as:

  • Increase body weight
  • High cholesterol level and increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Higher risk of cancer
  • Kidney related disease
  • Diarrhoea or constipation

How much protein is excessive?

According to recommended dietary allowance (RDA), daily protein intake for healthy women & men aged 18 and above is 58g and 68g respectively. Even so, more than 2grams/kg of protein intake per day should be avoided for excessive intake. (E.g. 92grams/day for a 50kg person.)

What to look out if you want to have a high protein diet?

  • Doctor advisor for any special health problem that may not suitable for such diet
  • Spread protein intake evenly throughout all meals during the day
  • Gain protein from turkey, chicken breast, beans, fish and nuts instead of red meats and processed carbohydrates
  • Pick a balanced diet that consists high amount of fiber, fruits, and vegetables (E.g. Mediterranean diet)

Reference: Publishing, H. (2020). When it comes to protein, how much is too much? – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/when-it-comes-to-protein-how-much-is-too-much

How does protein intake affect weight management?

Foods with high protein can actually cause your body to feel fuller than carbohydrate-rich or fat-rich foods. By adding protein intake from lean foods in your diet will minimize the sensation of hunger and therefore lower your overall calorie intake.

In order to lose your weight by lower down your calorie intake, it is a must to lower the intake of certain foods. However, to keep protein-rich foods with low-fat intake will be a great idea. As a result, a large contribution of calorie will be from protein in this low energy intake diet. Based on the results demonstrated by several studies, a diet with high protein and low carbohydrate were linked with the slightly better initial loss of weight than popular low-fat diet plans.

Choosing protein-rich foods with lower fat like low-fat dairy products or lean meats are very important because certain protein-rich foods contain high amount of saturated fat. With this simple step, it will help decrease the possibility of developing the heart-related disease.

Reference: British Nutrition Foundation. (2019). Protein. [online] Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/protein.html?start=5 [Accessed 30 Aug. 2019].

Introduction to Protein

All cells and tissues contain protein. Therefore, proteins are important in the growth and repair of the body. Proteins are large molecules made up of chains of amino acids, which are our body’s building blocks used to make muscle, skin and various molecules that serve many important functions. However, not all amino acid can be made by the body and we need to obtain essential amino acid from our diet.

Consequences of low protein intake

Inadequate intake of protein is associated with increased risk of sarcopenia, an age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass and strength that result in decreased mobility and increased risk of injury. In addition, low intake of protein is associated with low immunity and greater risk of bone fractures.

How much protein do I need?

Based on the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) by Health Promotion Board (HPB), the daily protein requirement of normal healthy individuals in men and women aged 18 and above is 68g and 58g respectively. There is an extra requirement for pregnant and lactating women (first 6 months) – an additional 9g and 25g of protein respectively.

Do you know?

The most abundant compound in the body is water, followed by protein.

Reference: Lonnie, M., Hooker, E., Brunstrom, J., Corfe, B., Green, M., Watson, A., Williams, E., Stevenson, E., Penson, S. and Johnstone, A., 2018. Protein for life: Review of optimal protein intake, sustainable dietary sources and the effect on appetite in ageing adults. Nutrients, 10(3), p.360.