Friday, March 12, 2010

How to Get Complete Proteins Combining Foods

Some proteins contain all of the essential amino-acids. They are oftentimes called complete proteins. Usually, they are of animal origin: milk, cheese, chicken, fish or red meat. An exception to the rule is soybean. Proteins from other sources might be missing an essential amino-acid or not contain an adequate amount. These are called incomplete proteins. Most bread, for example, contain between 2 and 3 grams of protein per serving. That is not a complete protein; it is missing an essential amino-acid. This is the case also with rice, beans, nuts and vegetables. They are all good sources of protein, but by themselves are incomplete. They need a companion to balance that essential amino-acid that’s missing. This is why you need to combine proteins.

You can combine proteins that complement each other, getting all the essential amino-acids. If you have a missing amino-acid or it is in short supply, protein synthesis stops. It doesn’t just slow down, it stops, because you are missing the blocks to complete its structure. This is why it is so important to make sure you’re getting a balance of protein-containing foods.

The only time I’ve seen an issue with incomplete protein is in inexperienced vegans. Most Americans get much more protein than what they need. Vegans are people who eliminate all sorts of animal products from their diet. You can have all essential amino-acids with a vegan diet, you just need to be wise in the way you combine proteins. For example, cereal grains are low in the essential amino-acid lysine. Beans can be used in place of low-lysine foods. You can do a research online and see what essential amino-acids your favorite foods have. You’ll only need to do this if you’re vegan, otherwise you can be pretty sure you are getting all essential amino-acids if you are having a somewhat balanced omnivorous diet.

We used to believe that you had to have these complementing foods, like rice and beans, at the same meal. Science proved that wrong. You must have them within the same day, but you don’t need to have them within the same meal. If at breakfast you have peanuts and a banana, you have an incomplete protein, but if at 10 o’clock you have a granola bar you’ve now had that missing essential amino-acid. It wasn’t at the same meal, but in the same day. It’s not really difficult to balance this out. So, veganism is really a healthy choice.

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