Your mid-day meal - your lunch, is a vital aspect of a day. Lunch helps you re-energize your body after a tiring day at work. It is needed by both children and adults to maintain an active metabolism. Eating anything for lunch might satiate your hunger, but it can't quench the nutritional thirst of your body. To satisfy your body's requirements, your lunch should be a blend of various protein sources.
Why is it so important to include protein in lunch? Well, what bricks are to a house, protein is to your body. Healthy lunch is incomplete without sufficient portions of protein. It is the warrior who protects your body from unknown viruses. It defends your kidneys, muscle strength, bone health and well-being.
Reasons Indian Lunch Needs a Protein Bump Up
- The recommended protein intake for men and women stands at 56% and 46% respectively. But at the same time, our body is incapable of storing protein, unlike carbohydrates and fats. Thus, only a balanced diet in the form of lunch makes up for that protein shortage your body demands.
- A typical Indian lunch comprises rice, a few rotis, a bowl of dal, a sabzi, any curry, pulao, masala dosa, stuffed parathas, noodles, and veg biryani, to name a few. But it takes off the wrong route when somehow it fails to meet the protein requirements of the body. Indian lunch is carb-rich and has low protein content. Many times, your traditional lunch has a negligible protein percentage, thus requiring a protein bump up.
- Indian lunches are loaded with way more carbs, starch, fat and processed foods. We consume a lot of dishes prepared from potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, jowar, bajra and dates. These food items are rich in carbs which prohibit our mid-day meals from fulfilling the criteria of 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight.
Five Ways to Boost Protein in Lunch
Replace 'this with that'
Do you know that you can use the food swapping technique to upgrade the protein content in your lunch? Yes, you can Swap aloo paratha with paneer paratha or aloo sandwich with paneer grilled sandwich. Green peas, beans and jackfruit are excellent sources of protein, too. Whereas peas provide 5 grams of protein per serving, beans provide 21 grams of protein per cup. So replace aloo sabzi with these instead.
You can also switch aloo with stir-fried tofu. One can also add paneer bhurji, which is a substitute for egg bhurji. These amazing food swaps will help you increase your daily dose of protein in lunch. Similarly, replace dosa with either besan cheela or oats cheela and rice khichdi with oats khichdi.
Include a side dish
Add on an extra item along with your lunch. If you are having simple dal roti for lunch, then add a side option. It can be dahi or buttermilk. Similarly, non-veg options include fish, scrambled eggs or chicken curry as a side dish alongside your dal and roti or dal and rice.
Reduce the consumption of grain products, choose pulses
This is for those people who consume rice and dal but have larger portions of rice and smaller quantities of dal in their lunch. To have a protein-rich joyful experience, cut down on rice or reduce its quantity, and increase the percentage of daal in your mid-day meal. Instead of one bowl of dal, you can go with two bowls. This largely helps vegetarians to extract max protein and fibre.
Add the power of curries and soups to your lunch
Simple curries and soups transformed with a blend of protein-rich magic ingredients can boost your protein content naturally. Restructure your old soup or curry by adding kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas. A lentil soup or curries cooked with rajma provides 14 to 20 grams of protein.
Animal protein is your other magic protein booster. Include curries or soups made of fish, egg and chicken. This increases the protein value of your lunch from 5 grams to 43.6 grams.
Increase dairy product intake
Milk and its dairy products are powerful protein tools. Other than protein, it is also rich in calcium and protein. Increasing the intake of milk products like whole milk, skimmed milk, yoghurt and cheddar cheese alongside your lunch can fully satisfy your protein cravings.
Also, try Lo! Protein Chef
A more convenient way to add protein to your lunch is by adding Lo! Protein Chef. Our dietician recommended Lo!’s protein powder—Protein Chef is full of protein. This plant-based protein powder provides you with 20 grams of protein per scoop. Different from traditionally made powders, Lo! Protein Chef can be mixed by adding one scoop to your favourite flour, roti, upma, cheela and oats.
Now that you have an idea about the most effective protein-rich lunch ideas, try them out for better metabolism and bone health. As these protein-rich food alternatives can help you cover a long way.