I want to talk about protein and link it back to one of our staple foods back in India which is called dal chawal or basically a rice and dal. Well there’s this whole myth about protein and how much you need of it but what’s more important is the quality of protein that you consume every day. You see the whole media and market has us believing that the more protein that we have the more lean muscle we have, the bigger we get the more muscle we have. A lot of women believe that the more protein we have the leaner we will get and the fatter we will lose. Now that does make a little bit of sense because if you have good amount of protein in your body you can build muscle and you can build lean mass but it doesn’t always have to be quantity over quality. It is always quality over quantity because you see it doesn’t matter how much protein you have. What really matters is how this protein breaks down into amino acids in your body. So for example you may get 30 grams of protein in a scoop of any whey protein that you spend about three and a half to four grands a month and you may have a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds which has 3 to 4 grams of protein but quality protein with all the amino acids. Now that breaks down better in your body.
So why are we talking about protein because today building lean mass; I’m not talking about big muscle I’m talking about lean mass, having the right amount of protein in your diet is extremely beneficial. Not only does it make you look good and give you that muscle tone but the more muscle tone you have the higher metabolic activity you have and it’s all about metabolism. The higher your metabolism the faster you lose weight.
So overtraining and crippling you metabolism or under eating and crippling your metabolism or going on these starvation diets and crippling your metabolism gets you short term goals of about 3 to 4 kilos or weight loss, you’re all happy and then you put that weight back on because you never work on your metabolic activity. You see weight loss is not about just exercise and diet it’ about communication between your hormones. Are you giving your body the right energy it needs?
What more when it comes to sickness. You know how your immunity works basically when your cells fight diseases and viruses and pathogens and germs. What it needs is energy. It starts breaking down lean mass. Your white blood cells break down your lean mass and that’s protein because it uses protein to heal itself. Protein is the building block of cells. This means there are constantly cells dying and growing all the time. It needs energy. It needs protein. But it needs quality protein.
Our normal staple Indian dal and rice is one of the best combinations and one of the most complete proteins. What do I mean by a complete protein? There are 20 amino acids. Nine of them are essential. This means that nine of these amino acids our body cannot make like the other amino acids which means we need to get it from our food sources because our body cannot manufacture it. Now when you look at the combination of lentils which is your dal and rice it becomes a complete protein. So for example lentils have an amino acid called lysine which rice does not have and rice has all the sulphur based amino acids that lentils don’t have. So when you look at the Indian wisdom in food when we get down the ages the combination of a lentil and a combination of rice gives you a complete protein and let’s back this up. Take a walk down a village or visit different villages and you’ll see farmers, you see the men and women lean strong bodies. Their physical activity may be much more than what we do but what’s their diet? Their staple diet is lentils, grains and vegetables. They don’t have protein shakes or supplements or any of these things that we think we need to have a lean body and yet they’re so lean and so ripped eating carbohydrates, lentils and everything that we’re scared of.
So yes you should have that dal chawal in your diet. Now what’s important is variety. We’re blessed in a country which has so many different forms of lentils and legumes. Right from rajmas and chanas to our green moong dal to our yellow dals our orange dals and all of that. Look for variety because when you have variety you have different nutrients that one dal may not have and you get it from the other. So your simple dal chawal happens to be a very nutritious food. Now if you obviously compare it to that scoop of protein on some whey protein box it’s obviously not going to be the same but we got to start using our brain, start looking back at how farmers have such ripped bodies with their activity and a simple staple diet than us. We got to keep things simple. We got to go back to our roots and understand it’s about a complete protein, a quality protein and not just the quantity of protein.