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What's a Complete Protein? Inquiring Vegetarians Want to Kno

This Is How to Eat Enough Protein on a Vegetarian Diet

There probably isn't a vegetarian on the planet who hasn't been asked "Are you getting enough protein?" While the amount is important — women need, on average, about 45 to 65 grams of protein a day — so is the type.

If you take a trip back to your old science class, you might remember that protein is made up of smaller components called amino acids, 12 of which are manufactured by the human body. Another nine, called essential amino acids, must be obtained from food. A complete protein is a protein that contains all of the essential amino acids. Animal proteins are complete, including red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy, so what's a vegetarian or vegan to do? There are a few nonanimal sources that offer complete proteins, so it's important to get your fill of soybeans, blue green algae, hempseed, buckwheat, and quinoa if you're diet is meat-, milk-, or egg-free.

Then there are foods known as incomplete proteins, including beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, peas, and corn. Combine two or more incomplete proteins and boom — you've got a complete protein. Enjoy them together in one meal or the combination can be consumed over the same day, such as black bean soup for lunch and brown rice with dinner. Here are some other food combinations that work:

  • Beans with whole grains: hummus (contains chickpeas and tahini, which is made from sesame seeds) and pita bread, red beans and rice, chickpea and quinoa veggie burgers on a whole-wheat bun, split pea soup with whole-grain bread, lentil barley soup, black beans and polenta, and tortillas with refried beans
  • Nuts or seeds with whole grains: sunflower seed butter on crackers, almond butter on toast, peanut noodles
  • Beans with seeds or nuts: hummus, salad topped with sunflower seeds and chickpeas

Note that having a varied vegetarian or vegan diet is key to getting enough protein. As long as you focus on eating enough calories and consuming a variety of plant-based foods, like legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds throughout the day, chances are you'll be getting the nutrients you need.

debunkingnutrition debunkingnutrition 4 years
There is a lot of misinformation in this article. If you do the math, it becomes clear that the majority of vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains are complete proteins. The idea that we have to carefully combine the foods listed in this article is a complete myth.
Gary14910364 Gary14910364 4 years
this is nonsense....everything you recommend is a carb your body it's an avalanche of SUGAR....don't fool yourself....Eat Animal Protein. That is how your body is designed to live and repair itself....Eat grains, beans, very little amounts....Eating as described above will get your body to store fat, make insulin and cause you to have type 2 diabetes....Stop listening to the "nutritionist" and following the food pyramid
millylynn millylynn 5 years
In response to the following post by Anonymous:\u00a0 "Plants do not provide complete proteins. While it is true foods like soya, and buckwheat CONTAIN complete proteins, they do not transfer over well to the human body after consumption. Therefore if you tried to only eat one of those plant foods you would wind up deficent in protein." \u00a0 This is actually not true. Most plants do not have a complete protein by themselves, and yes, soy and others that do might appear to have more protein than we actually process in the end. Quinoa, however, is a grain that contains a complete protein AND is easy to digest. It's also a great source of many other important nutrients for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. South Americans (particularly in areas like Peru and Bolivia) have depended on this grain as a dietary staple for a very long time. \u00a0, it's delicious. :-)
Bill2537567 Bill2537567 5 years
Someone below said.   "corn does not give you its amino acids at all if it is not first treated with lye."   Respectfully, that's not true.   For full info go here. http:/   Getting amino acids from corn is no problem at all for our digestive system. In fact corn contains all the essential amino acids and they are easily digested.   What soaking in lye does is release niacin B3 from the corn and make the niacin available for digestion. This is an essential vitamin that prevents Pellegra. If you are eating a vegetarian diet, this can be important because B3 is not easy to get from vegetables.   There also people who believe corn is totally indigestible. This is because they see the hulls of corn in the toilet after eating corn. That is only the hull, the rest of the corn has been digested.    
krisua krisua 10 years
Interesting. But I still prefer fish and poultry - healthy AND yummy!
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