Complete Proteins

12 comments
nutrition, Vegan

As a vegetarian, the most annoying question we get on a daily basis is “how do you get your protein?” It is not anyone’s business how we get our protein, however, we have to explain to complete strangers that it is possible to get a complete protein without eating meat. I have been a vegetarian for about nine years and it is still hard to answer this question without freezing. I try to quickly think about my diet and what I eat in 30 seconds so I answer the questions quick enough without seeming weird.

Although most vegetables are not a complete protein, it is possible to consume a complete protein with complimentary proteins and various grains. So what is a complete protein? A complete protein is a protein that contains adequate portions of all 9 essential amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, however, the body cannot produce 9 of the amino acids on its own, and so it is important to consume them. All meat and dairy do contain all 9 essential amino acids.

Consuming complete proteins is not as complicated as it seems. If you simply eat a variety of proteins throughout the day, you will most likely consume adequate amounts of each amino acid. However, if you are worried about consuming a complete protein, there are many different examples and complementary proteins below.

  1. Quinoa: Not only is quinoa a complete protein but it contains 5 grams of fiber per cup. It is great to use in salads and is a tasty addition to homemade granola recipes.
  2. Buckwheat: It contains manganese, copper, and magnesium. It is not a grain and is gluten free, so it is great for people who avoid grains. It contains an adequate amount of fiber, so it is ideal for people who are looking to lose a few pounds. You can find buckwheat flour, noodles, and cereal in your local grocery store!
  3. Chia Seeds: Chia seeds contain an adequate amount of dietary fiber, so this product is also good for weight loss. It is rich in omega-3 fats and other vitamins and minerals. This little seed can be added to drinks, sprinkled on oatmeal or yogurt or added to a salad.

Complimentary proteins: There are many pairings that make complete proteins. Some include:

  • Legumes with dairy, nuts, seeds or dairy
  • Diary with nuts/ seeds/ legumes
  • Grains and dairy

Some commonly eaten meals that are complete proteins are below:

  1. Rice and Beans: yes, this simple dish is one of the most commonly eaten complimentary proteins. It tastes great and is so easy to make!
  2. Macaroni and cheese
  3. Hummus with pita bread
  4. Grilled cheese sandwich
  5. Lasagna
  6. Pizza
  7. Tacos with beans
  8. Yogurt with nuts
  9. Peanut butter sandwich
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12 thoughts on “Complete Proteins”

  1. As a vegan I get this question ALL THE TIME. Protein is one of those words, like gluten, that people trot out without fully understanding what it is or its purpose. Though meat and other animal byproducts may have the highest concentrations of protein, they are by no means the most nutritious sources. Not to mention that humans need way less protein to maintain health than most people think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is very informative. As a trainer I have to constantly remind my clients that there are plenty of food sources that contain complete protein other than meat. Plus, veggies and grains are filled with vitamins and minerals to keep the body strong and healthy. Although meats does have its benefits there are drawbacks that can affect the body that veggies and grains otherwise wouldn’t, like saturated fat and salt to name a few. I think a major problem in our society is that meat is highly praised as the ultimate food and causes people to make unconscious choices to go after meat as “real” food source. Also, the meat industry is a multibillion dollar one which puts grains and veggies in the back seat, unfortunately. I believe with this kind of information can enlighten those with limiting knowledge of where protein comes from that way they can stop asking “where do you get your protein from?”… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Complete proteins – EGOfitness

  4. awesome post! very informative and you are right, it’s not anyone’s business how you get your proteins…unless you wish to discuss that with them. I have celiac and many people think gluten free is so restrictive but not for me!

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  5. Hi brea

    yep, having to ‘justify’ one’s lifestyle to strangers is aggravating. At best. I was a vegetarian for a long time (almost 3 years) in college, but in the end, it was not for me. Though I LOVE some vegetarian meals.

    I’ve taken all the chemistry classes, so I know about the amino acids that build the protein, and want to shake my head, roll my eyes at questions from strangers on choice of lifestyle for whatever reason. Knowing nutrition (and a lot of 7th Day Adventists), it is healthier than other diets.

    Anyway, love your featured picture (looks very yummy, now I need to wander off for my breakfast!) and the post.

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  6. Chris Foreman-Cochran says:

    Great article I am not a Vegetarian but my daughter is so I will share this with her.

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  7. Super helpful info! I’m not a vegetarian but am always looking for ways to incorporate meatless meals into our lifestyle. Thanks for the details about the essential amino acids.

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  8. I did not know that about quinoa — I will have to read more about it. I get by pretty well with eggs, too. Can’t give them up!

    Like

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