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ICMR's New Dietary Guidelines: A Shift Away from Protein Supplements

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recently released updated dietary guidelines for the Indian population, which have significant implications for the way we approach nutrition and health. One of the key recommendations from these guidelines is a shift away from the consumption of protein supplements, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. This blog aims to discuss the reasoning behind this recommendation and what it means for individuals looking to maintain a healthy diet. ICMR New Dietary Guidelines: A Shift Away from Protein Powder

ICMR's New Dietary Guidelines: A Shift Away from Protein Supplements

Why the Shift Away from Protein Supplements?

The ICMR's guidelines are based on extensive research and analysis of various studies and data sets. The primary concern with protein supplements is that they often lack the essential nutrients and fiber that are naturally present in whole foods. Additionally, these supplements can be high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, which can contribute to a range of health problems if consumed excessively.

Protein powders, sourced from eggs, dairy, whey, and plant-based options like soybeans, peas, and rice, have become popular as supplements. However, the ICMR cautions against their regular consumption due to potential additives like sugars, sweeteners, and artificial flavors, which may not align with overall health goals.

Whey protein, high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), has raised concerns. Recent findings suggest a possible link between elevated BCAA intake and increased risks of certain non-communicable diseases, prompting moderation in usage as advised by health experts. ICMR emphasizes the importance of balancing protein intake with non-protein energy from carbohydrates and fats for optimal protein synthesis and bodily functions. Excessive protein consumption, especially through supplements, is discouraged.

ICMR notes that protein intake beyond 1.6g/kg/day does not significantly enhance muscle mass gains from resistance exercise. The guidelines also advocate for reducing salt intake, limiting sugar and ultra-processed foods, and making informed food choices by reading labels.

ICMR's New Dietary Guidelines: A Shift Away from Protein Supplements

The comprehensive set of 17 dietary guidelines includes recommendations for various life stages, such as extra care during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding, and introducing nutritious complementary foods to infants.

Key ICMR Guidelines for Indians:

  1. Embrace dietary variety for a balanced diet

  2. Provide additional nutrition during pregnancy and lactation

  3. Support exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding

  4. Introduce homemade complementary foods to infants after six months

  5. Ensure appropriate diets for children and adolescents

  6. Include plenty of vegetables and legumes

  7. Use oils/fats moderately and diversify sources for essential fatty acids

  8. Obtain quality proteins and essential amino acids through food combinations, avoiding supplements for muscle building

  9. Maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent obesity

  10. Stay physically active for overall well-being

  11. Limit salt intake

  12. Opt for safe and clean foods

  13. Employ suitable cooking methods

  14. Stay hydrated with adequate water intake

  15. Reduce consumption of high fat, sugar, salt, and ultra-processed foods

  16. Include nutrient-rich foods for elderly health

  17. Make informed food choices by reading labels

Natural Sources of Protein:

The ICMR emphasizes the importance of obtaining protein from natural sources such as pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These foods not only provide essential amino acids but also offer a range of other vital nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Incorporating these foods into one's diet can help ensure that the body receives the necessary nutrients for optimal health


The ICMR's new dietary guidelines are a significant step towards promoting healthier eating habits in India. By shifting away from protein supplements and focusing on whole, natural foods, individuals can not only ensure they are getting the necessary protein but also a balanced diet that supports overall well-being. It is crucial for individuals to be aware of the importance of whole foods and to make informed choices about their diet to maintain optimal health.


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