Protein is one of the most essential macronutrients. Depending on your body type and activity level, your body can require anything from 15% to 30% calories coming from proteins.
Our Indian diet is quite carbohydrate heavy and deficient in proteins, especially among vegetarians. I have compiled a list of some protein sources that are very easily available and easy on the pocket. Try and incorporate these into your meal.
Eggs: Eggs are an excellent source of complete, easily digestible protein. 1 whole egg will give you around 6.5 gms of protein while 1 egg white will give about 3.3 GMs. Most people can have 1-2 whole eggs daily, however, since the yolk is very high in cholesterol, it is recommended to stick to a limit of 1 whole egg per day. You can have 5-6 egg whites.
Legumes: Chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, peas, chana are all legumes. 30-60 gms of these will give around 12 gms of protein. The only thing to remember is that legumes have incomplete protein. It is a good idea to eat these along with an animal protein source or with a cereal like roti, rice, millet, etc.
Milk and Milk Products: a good source of complete protein. You should ideally switch to 1.5% Fat Milk. Milk is the one drink that can be consumed at any time of the day. Milk products like homemade curd and cottage cheese (Paneer, Chenna) are also excellent. You should have 2-4 servings of milk and milk products daily. 1 Serving = 200 ml of milk, 100 ml of Curds or about 50 gms of cottage cheese.
Chicken: Contains roughly 20% protein. Which means that 100gms of Chicken will give you around 20gms of high-quality protein. The best way of preparing Chicken is by poaching it (put herbs and vegetables in the water to add flavour) or grilling it.
Fish: Contains between 19-22 grams of Protein depending on variety. When it comes to fish, the fat content also matters. Salmon, Sardines, Basa are some of the commonly available fatty fish whereas Rohu, Bombay Duck, Pomfret are lower in fat content. You should be consuming around 80-100 gms of Fish at a time. This about half the size of your palm. Just like Chicken, Fish should also be either Poached or Grilled.
Green Peas: Skip the ready to use frozen versions available in markets and start buying Green Peas in the Pods. Both the pea and pod are delicious and can be used for cooking. You can consume 75-100gms of Green Peas at a time. This will give you 6-9 gms of Protein. It is important to remember that peas also contain incomplete protein. Combining peas with another legume or with an animal protein (milk, curd, paneer, chicken, eggs, etc) will take care of this issue.
Nuts and Seeds: Peanuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Sesame Seeds, Flaxseeds, and Walnuts are some of the most widely consumed nuts in India. One serving, 15 gms gives 3-4 gms of protein. You can have 2-3 servings in a day.
Soy Granules: Soy granules are processed from Soybean. The processing ends up getting rid of the carbohydrates and fat, leaving just protein in the product. Soy granules or Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP) is an inexpensive source of high quality protein. One portion, which is about 30 gms will give you 15 gms of Protein and only 10 gms of Carbohydrates. The only thing to keep in mind, is that since Soy mimics estrogen in the body, it should be consumed in moderation. Men can have up to 1 serving daily whereas women should restrict intake to 2 times in a week.