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Here’s What You Need to Know about a Complete Protein, Especially If You’re Vegan


All your life you have probably been consuming protein without knowing anything about a complete protein. Yes, not all protein is the same, as there are two different categories of proteins: a complete protein and an incomplete protein.

A complete protein, which is also referred to as a whole protein, is derived from a protein source that has nine essential amino acids present in it. These essential amino acids cannot be produced internally by our body, although they are required for optimal growth and production of cells.

Therefore, these essential amino acids must be derived from food sources. Other non-essential amino acids are produced internally by our body, and unless a person is not healthy, these non-essential amino acids are plentiful in our body. By definition, amino acids are organic compounds which form the building blocks of proteins.

A complete protein is derived from a protein source that has nine essential amino acids present in it

It’s All About The Amino Acids

A complete protein should not be confused with what we call a high protein diet. A high protein source may or may not be a complete protein. It is the presence of 9 essential amino acids in a food that makes it a source of complete protein. These 9 essential amino acids are: tryptophan, isoleucine, valine, histidine, leucine, methionine, lysine, threonine, and phenylalanine.

There are many foods that contain complete proteins, such as eggs, poultry, red meat, fish, quinoa, milk, yogurt and soybean. If you are a frequent consumer of these foods, then you don’ need to worry about whether the protein you’re consuming is complete or not because these food sources contain 9 essential amino acids in an abundant amount.

There are many foods that contain complete proteins, such as eggs, poultry, red meat, fish, quinoa, milk, yogurt and soybean

People who consume only eggs and dairy but do not consume any meat still fulfil their daily requirement of complete protein, provided they are consuming enough of these foods. The real challenge in consuming complete proteins arises when a person has a vegetable-based diet, and that is because plant-based proteins are not complete proteins.

Why Plant-Based Protein Fails To Deliver

Plant-based protein lacks one or more essential amino acids. If you are on a vegan diet, you need to combine two or more food sources in order to fulfill your protein requirement. For example, a high protein plant-based diet should also include nuts, grains, chickpeas, beans and seeds.

According to nutritionists, a vegan person should include a complete protein with vegetable-based meals to meet the daily calorie requirement. Living healthily with a vegan diet is entirely possible, however what’s essential is that you fulfill your body’s amino acid requirements to manually complete the protein you’re deriving from plants.

According to nutritionists, a vegan person should include a complete protein with vegetable-based meals to meet the daily calorie requirement

The key to maintaining adequate intake of complete proteins in a vegetable-based diet is to plan your food sources according to nutritional content. Completing your calorie requirement of the day through a single source of food is definitely not a healthy option. It will only result in you becoming deficient in complete proteins, while also possibly depriving you of essential minerals and vitamins.

You should mix and match different vegan foods to deliver the best nutritional punch to your body. For example, you may have whole grains, such as cooked brown rice, with a bean curry, or a scoop of peanut butter spread on a whole grain slice of bread is another great food option that provides complete proteins with other essential nutrition. Of course, our all-time favorite is hummus along with pita bread, an excellently delicious combination that cannot be excluded from a list of healthy vegan food combinations.

For Those Who Are Not Vegan

People who are not on a vegan diet do not need to worry about their complete protein intake even if they are eating the same kind of food all the time, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. Your required protein intake amount depends on your weight. According to experts, a person requires about 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight.

Consuming complete proteins in a single meal has synergistic effects compared to consumption in intervals with different meals. This means that vegan diet consumers can simply incorporate one meal in their diet plan that provides them a lot of plant-based protein as well as the necessary amino acids to deliver a complete protein punch.

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