Recently a friend, a working mum, desperately ting tinged me on Whatsapp. She wanted ideas on how to put her growing son on a high protein diet. Now this little fellow, I mean the protein, has always emerged as the hero when the battle ensued between Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins. And more often than not the battle has been on the grounds of ‘weight loss’. However, what must be informed is that a “High Protein Diet” leads to weight gain also. Depending on the metabolism, gender, and levels of activity/inactivity and general lifestyle this creature, when in excess, is converted into fat.
At the expense of creating a rally amongst the “Protein Fanatics” and with the fear that I might be asked to resign from office, please be assured that I am here only to help my friend and many mothers of growing up children. This is not a “Protein Protest”, this is just to give mums a fair idea of protein requirements of a growing child, ideal food choices and the alternatives available. No rigging, P for pukka promise.
To start off, proteins are made up of building bricks called amino acids, they are 22 in total and each protein is formed from the bonding of various amino acids in different combinations and permutations. Out of the 22, 11 amino acids are non-essential, i.e. the human body is capable of making them. The remaining 9 are to be derived from the food substances that we guzzle down everyday. Proteins derived from animal sources like meat, poultry, fish, dairy, cheese and eggs are complete sources of protein – i.e. they provide you with all the essential amino acids – commonly known as high quality proteins. Legumes, rice and beans are incomplete sources of protein. However, if eaten in conjunction with each other they can provide the essential requirements.
The table below is self-explanatory and gives you an estimate of protein needs in children. (These are estimates based in average height and weight of the child)
Grams of protein needed each day
Children ages 1-3 13
Children ages 4-8 19
Children ages 9-13 34
Girls ages 14-18 46
Boys ages 14-18 52
Source: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta
The above numbers are after all, just numbers, unless there is some estimation that one can go by and keep a tab on the protein intake. Below given are some of the most commonly consumed proteins
1 Egg, Large – 6 grams
1 cup Milk – 8 grams
1 cup Yogurt – 8-12 grams
2 tbsp. Peanut butter – 8 grams
¼ cup Almonds – 8 grams
3.5 oz. Chicken breast – 30 grams
3- 3-½ oz. Fish fillet – 22 grams
4 oz. Hamburger patty – 28 grams
½ cup Beans (Black, lentils, garbanzo) 7 -10 grams
1 oz. Cheese (Soft, Medium) 6 -8 grams
Source: Dr. Joey Shulman, Canadian Living
Spread over 3 main meals and 2 snacks daily, teens and pre-teens can easily fuel their body with adequate nutrition without mums being overly worried. For instance a breakfast comprising of a glass of milk and a 2-egg omelet covers about 20 grams of protein intake – almost half of the daily requirement in just one meal.
Talking of breakfasts and our star player today, P for Parmesan I recently made Parmesan pancakes for my pre-teen broods. A forkful in and their eyes closed down with comfort, which gives me the credence to share the recipe with you. So here it is, a fluffed, herbed and thoroughly cheesed pancake topped with cold smoky salmon fillets, lemon wedges and a glass of snowy white liquid protein. Oh and guess what? An ounce of Parmesan cheese has a whopping 10 grams of protein, p for pukka promise!
It has scientifically been proven that a protein rich breakfast displays better concentration and attention levels in the classroom and better strength and endurance levels during physical activity. So then….chak dey … P for Pathay!