Protein Part 3: the art of protein combining
As discussed in part 2 proteins containing all the essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Although animal products are the standard for complete proteins don’t rule plants out just yet. Allow me to introduce the art of protein combining.
Let’s take the classic example of beans and rice – neither of which are complete proteins. It just so happens that the essential amino acid lacking in black beans, are found in rice. So when eaten together they create a complete protein, because all the essential amino acids are present.
The gold standard for a complete proteins is the egg. All of the essential amino acids are present. There are also some plants that have an amino acid score of 100. This means they contain all the essential amino acids in similar amounts. Here is a list of my favorite plant based complete proteins: hemp hearts, chia seeds, quinoa, buckwheat, soy products, and spirulina.
Now you have two ways to get all the essential amino acids:
1. Eat foods that contains them all in equal amounts
2. Combine various incomplete proteins
The Protein Myth:
All the essential acids need to be eaten in the same meal.
You do not need to get all of the essential amino acids in one meal. Your body keeps stores of these essential amino acids in your body for a few days. Our body has what nutritionists call an “amino acid pool” where amino acids are stored. If you are regularly rotating your protein sources and are consuming a large variety of plant based foods you can easily get all of the essential amino acids.