Finding a Complete Plant-Based Protein
People love to find your flaws. They find no greater pleasure than to try and poke holes in whatever you’re doing.
Probably several times a week, people like to make sure to tell me that because I’m a vegan, I’m not getting “complete protein.”
They go off about how plant proteins do not have a complete amino acid profile and that I’m missing out on gains or am damaging my health because of it.
Their claim is ridiculous for several reasons and I want to tell you exactly what those reasons are.
If you’re a vegan or if you’re considering adding more plant-based protein to your diet but are worried about getting a complete nutritional profile, or even if you’re just curious about how plant-based protein works, this article is for you.
You can keep all this info in your back pocket the next time someone brings this up--which they will.
You can also use this when you’re trying to find the best plant-based protein powder for your lifestyle, goals, or principles.
What Is Protein?
Proteins are made up of strings of amino acids. The order that the amino acids are bunched together will make different types of proteins.
There are 20 different amino acids. Your body needs all 20 amino acids in varying amounts in order to build muscle and carry out its daily functions.
11 of those amino acids your body can make all on its own. It can manufacture them whenever it needs them.
The other 9 are called “essential” amino acids because you have to get them from your diet. Your body cannot make them.
Now, the claim that people make about vegetarians and vegans is that they don’t get “complete” proteins in their diet.
What does that mean?
What is a Complete Protein?
The whole claim that plant proteins are not “complete” is bullcrap.
All plant based protein are complete proteins, especially plant-based protein powder, will have all 9 essential amino acids.
However, some plant proteins are deficient in certain of the 9 essential amino acids (the ones your body can’t make).
But that doesn’t mean that plant proteins are “incomplete.” They just have lower levels of certain amino acids that animal-based proteins.
It’s true that if you eat a serving of chicken or steak you will get sufficient amounts of all 9 essential amino acids.
But if you’re only eating beans or rice or peas as your source of protein, then yes you will fall short on some of the amino acids.
However, If you combine two or more of those plant-based proteins, you will almost certainly hit your daily requirements for those 9 essential amino acids.
For example, while brown rice is a fabulous plant protein, it is low in lysine. However, pea protein is higher in lysine than brown rice.
By combining certain plant-based protein sources, you can fill in the blanks of the other proteins.
This is why I personally think that Planta is the best plant-based protein powder because it has a complete amino acid profile by combining two organic plant proteins in one scoop.
What Happens if You Don’t Get Complete Protein?
I’d like to also clear the air about what exactly happens if you do not get sufficient amounts of those 9 essential amino acids.
For example, being deficient in lysine has a range of symptoms, including muscle loss, lethargy, anemia, weakness, stomach ulcers, inability to concentrate, irritability and more.
General protein deficiency has a similar list of symptoms that also includes edema, anorexia, and an enlarged liver.
I consider myself to be a healthy, fit individual and I have been doing just fine with getting my amino acids and proteins from plant sources.
People act like if you go one day without sufficient amounts of all 9 essential amino acids, that you will wither up into a frail shell of a person.
Obviously, this is not the case. In fact, cases of protein deficiency and amino acid deficiency in developed nations are extremely rare.
Cases of this type of illnesses are more common in areas with literal famines and food shortages. So it appears to me that in order to really experience some of the adverse side-effects of protein or amino acid deficiency, it has to be a chronic and dramatic shortage.
However, what about people who are trying to build muscle and stay lean? Again, I consider myself to be a pretty lean, muscular person and as I’ve mentioned above, you can get ample proteins with a complete amino acid profile all from plant sources...especially if you use a good plant-based protein powder.
Sources of Complete Plant Protein
I have one word for you: quinoa. It has a complete amino acid profile, which means that it has significant amounts of all 9 essential amino acids.
If you’re a Vegan and worried about getting a complete amino acid profile in your diet, start getting into quinoa.
It is incredibly versatile, it’s delicious, and you can add it to a variety of dishes. You can find Organic versions of it frozen and it pre-cooked that you can pop in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Easy.
Now, I already mentioned a couple of the most popular sources of plant proteins above, namely, peas and brown rice.
I want to talk a little more about each of these.
Why Pea and Brown Rice Proteins Are the Most Popular
Pea protein could be the best source of plant-based protein, and it is definitely the more popular for Vegan bodybuilders.
Peas are also a complete protein, meaning they have significant amounts of all 9 essential amnio acids.
In fact, pea protein is pretty comparable to whey protein’s amino acid profile.
Brown rice, on the other hand, actually has a more balanced amino acid profile than milk. Brown rice is comparable to spirulina, which is another popular Vegan protein source.
The reason that Planta includes both brown rice and pea proteins is precisely because of how balanced they are. They include all 9 essential amino acids in good proportions and they also happen to blend well and taste great.
This is why I absolutely love Planta and I’ve made it part of my daily diet.
If you want to learn more about Planta and why I’m so passionate about it, just click here.