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What is a complete protein?

03/05/2010

According to the Wiki…

A complete protein (or whole protein) is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all of the essential amino acids for the dietary needs of humans or other animals. [1] This does not refer to the protein source only containing all the essential amino acids, but also containing them in complete proportion for use by the human body. A source may contain all essential amino acids, but contain one in lower proportion to the others, making it an incomplete protein.
The following table lists the optimal profile of the essential amino acids, which comprises a complete protein [2]:
Essential Amino Acid mg/g of Protein
Tryptophan 7
Threonine 27
Isoleucine 25
Leucine 55
Lysine 51
Methionine+Cystine 25
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine 47
Valine 32
Histidine 18
Complete proteins contain adequate amounts and proportions of these essential amino acids.
Nearly all whole foods contain protein, and nearly all forms of protein contain all twenty protein-forming amino acids in some quantity. However, proportions vary, and some forms of protein are partly lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids. Meals prepared with a mix of protein foods can provide a better balance of the essential amino acids and therefore a more complete protein source. Apart from soybeans, vegetable sources of protein are more often lacking in one or more essential amino acids than animal sources,[3] typically being deficient in lysine and methionine.[citation needed]
A variety of proteins in the diet is one way of assuring that the body’s amino acid needs are met. All the essential amino acids can be obtained on their own from various everyday plant sources, which, contrary to popular belief, do not need to be combined in the same meal (see Protein combining).[4]

So if we look at Goji berries, hemp seed, raw cacao, quinoa, amaranth, spirulina and bee pollen, these are all examples of whole foods that are non-animal sources of COMPLETE protein.  They contain all 9 essential amino acids in the proper proportions.

The debate is whether the human body can assimilate vegetable sourced aminos as effectively and efficiently as animal based aminos. Depending on who you read, you’ll find different versions of the truth. But as far as the definition of a complete protein, there are many good options in non-animal form.

I continue to rely on fish in my diet in order to “round” out my omega 3 and protein sources. I find that it adds a layer of depth to my diet that is vital for my metabolism. However I also am a huge fan of the superfoods and make power smoothies daily with a combo of whole fruits, spirulina, bee pollen, maca, hemp seeds, raw cacao and a brown rice based protein powder. My energy has never been more even throughout the day. I have a steady supply of good strong energy all day long.

My belief is that our relationship to food should be a constant process of discovery and experimentation. As such, it never gets stale or boring and we are always coming back to the all important question: HOW DO I FEEL? If you feel good, chances are something is working. If you don’t…maybe it’s time to be curious about what you could be doing differently.  Because, after all, don’t you want to feel good? I do.

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