What is a complete protein?

A food earns complete protein status if it contains the nine essential amino acids the body needs to build the proteins that help maintain muscle, bone, and organs. Unlike most amino acids, these nine can’t be generated by our bodies, so they have to come from food. There is no need to get complete proteins in every meal. For example, if you eat beans (an incomplete protein) at one meal and a tortilla (also incomplete, but complementary to beans) at the next, your body will be able to get the essential amino acids from both that it needs. Soy is a complete protein. Make sure to get it organic and minimally processed!

The easiest way to ensure you are getting the essential amino acids that you need is to combine legumes with nuts/seeds OR legumes with grains. Here are some examples (and make sure to round out your meals with lots of vegetables!):

Legumes:

  • Black beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Pinot beans
  • Split peas

Nuts/Seeds:

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Walnuts

Grains:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Tortilla

Good plant-based protein sources:

  • Almonds – 2 Tablespoons – 4g
  • Amaranth – 1 cup cooked – 12g
  • Asparagus – 1 cup cooked – 4g
  • Barley – 1 cup cooked – 11g
  • Black beans – 1 cup cooked – 39g
  • Broccoli – 1 cup cooked – 4g
  • Brown Rice – 1 cup cooked – 7g
  • Buckwheat – 1 cup cooked – 6g
  • Bulgur – 1 cup cooked – 6g
  • Chia seeds – 2 Tablespoons – 4g
  • Firm tofu – 1/2 cup – 10g
  • Garbanzo beans – 1 cup cooked – 14.5g
  • Hemp seeds – 2 Tablespoons – 6.6g
  • Lentils – 1 cup cooked – 18g
  • Oatmeal – 1 cup cooked – 6g
  • Pinto beans – 1 cup cooked – 15g
  • Quinoa – 1 cup cooked – 8g
  • Soybeans – 1 cup cooked – 28g
  • Spinach – 1 cup cooked – 5g
  • Spirulina – 2 Tablespoons – 8g
  • Tempeh – 1/2 cup – 15g

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This