People tend to eat animal based protein instead of plant based protein because they think one is complete and the other is not. This however is a myth and a wrong way of thinking, let me explain to you what the reality is.
I thought I would discuss this myth because it is something that comes back up every now and then, particularly when I read articles and people say:
”Oh you know I try to eat and advise all my clients to eat X amount of protein all from animal sources because it’s complete and then we don’t even count the plant-based protein.”
This is one of the more pervasive myths in both the training- and nutrition world that plant proteins are incomplete. Off the top of my head, the only incomplete protein that humans regularly eat as food is gelatin which comes from animals. It’s an incomplete source.
Self Nutrition Data
There’s a website I’ve been using for many years called Self Nutrition Data.
This website will give you full nutrition profiles; everything from glycemic index, glycemic load, vitamin b12, how inflammatory versus how anti-inflammatory it is, the full amino acid profile, etc.
I will use broccoli as an example, click here to see the profile.
It will show you on the chart how much each of the individual amino acids on it and anything that isn’t at the ideal amount for the human metabolism will be checked at the lower box and you’ll see how far below it is and it gives you a score (with a 100 as optimal).
If you look for other products you’ll notice very quickly that certain dairy proteins are at the top just like fish proteins.
But what you’ll also find is that there’s a lot of plant sources that is just as high, if not higher, than say steak for example.
So it doesn’t work that way. They are not incomplete, just some proteins out there don’t have the ideal ratio’s per gram of protein for a given amino acid but nobody out there eats only one source of protein. Every food you eat has protein that will get mixed. So you don’t have to look at it as a plant source versus animal source in regards to what you’re getting.
It’s a Non-Issue In High Protein Diets
The only reason we score this is because a lot of people may not be eating enough protein for optimal health or repairing muscle. If you’re eating really low on protein then it’s important that you use these charts and scales to make sure you’re getting enough of the essential amino acids but once you reach a certain treshold you have to stop worrying about this. People eating a high protein diet with 100, 150 or 200 grams of protein a day don’t have to worry for one second.
You get to eat it all from wheat, which has a fairly low score compared to a lot of other plants and you’d be fine because the sheer quantity of the protein is so high that it won’t matter anymore.
So this is really a myth and I’m not trying to push anybody towards veganism or vegetarianism by saying this because I will always love meat but this myth has been misunderstood.
It has been misconstrued because if a person wanted to only eat 50 grams of protein in a day, I might actually advise the person to use nothing but egg whites or some other ultra high quality dairy sources as your only protein source if you want to eat only 50 grams a day and still gain muscle.
It’s an issue of quantity of these individual amino acids and this whole incomplete protein that beans and rice and individually incomplete. No, they’re complete proteins already just not at that perfect score. But when you combine the two together they compliment each other and it raises the overall value of the mixture because they compliment what the other is missing.
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