Good afternoon, my lovelies! It’s a common question in practice whether vegans & vegetarians are getting enough protein from their food. So, I thought I’d share with you a guide for making complete proteins out of plants! If you’re a plant-lover, then this guide talks you through what a complete protein is and how to ensure you’re getting enough of the good stuff.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When you eat anything that contains protein, whether it’s a piece of meat or a bowl of rice, the body breaks it down into smaller components i.e. amino acids. These are then absorbed into the bloodstream and used to build and repair different tissues in the body.
Essential amino acids are those which cannot be made by the body and, therefore, need to be obtained from food. When you hear the term ‘non-essential’ amino acids, it means that your body can make these using leftover bits of old amino acids and a few other raw materials from the body.
A protein is considered ‘complete’ when it contains all of the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. Emphasis is placed on the word ‘sufficient’ because nearly all foods contain all amino acids; it’s just that some foods have such miniscule amounts of a particular type of amino acid that you wouldn’t even consider it a source. For example, grains are very low in lysine and if you solely relied on grains for protein, you wouldn’t get enough of it. However, legumes contain good amounts of lysine so by mixing them together you would make a complete protein. Legumes are also low in tryptophan and methionine whilst grains are high in these aminos, making grains and legumes complementary to each other.
Animal sources, like red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy, contain all of the essential amino acids which is what makes them complete. The challenge for vegans and vegetarians is knowing what vegetable sources of protein to mix together to make a complete protein.
You don’t necessarily have to eat a mixture of complementary proteins at every meal to obtain complete proteins. The body will make these complete over the course of the day as you eat a variety of foods.
To save the stress of wondering if you’ve gotten enough protein for the day, I have devised a reference guide which gives you complete protein mixes for vegans & vegetarians.
Protein Combining Guide
|1. Legumes||2. Grains||3. Nuts & Seeds|
|Kidney Beans||Oats||Sesame Seeds|
|Black Beans||Spelt||Brazil Nuts|
To make complete proteins, you can mix:
- Legumes & Grains – 1 & 2
- Grains with Nuts or Seeds – 2 & 3
- Nuts or Seeds with Legumes – 1 & 3
It’s that simple!
There are also some exceptions to the rule; soy products & quinoa are the only plant sources considered complete so you can basically mix these two with anything you like!
My favourite plant-protein-rich-meal is breakfast in the morning – oats, rice milk & a big dollop of almond butter! What’s your favourite vegan meal? I’d love to hear everyone’s combinations!
Have a lovely week everyone!
Love Stace x