There are many benefits to eating more meatless meals. These meals are often cheaper, lower in calories and better for the environment. It’s easy to get enough protein without eating animals. The real question is: can we adopt a “meatless” diet and have the same results in terms of muscle development?
The importance of the aminogram
The term complete protein refers to the amino acids, which are the chains of the protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein, including 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own and must be provided through food or dietary supplements. In order to be considered complete, a protein must therefore contain these 9 essential amino acids.
Complete proteins and incomplete proteins
Meat and eggs are complete proteins, nuts and beans are not. In the majority of cases, vegetable proteins do not contain all the essential amino acids and it is for this reason that food supplement brands offer vegetable protein blends which themselves contain all the essential amino acids. In fact, most dietitians believe that the vegetarian diet contains such a variety of amino acid profiles that vegetarians are guaranteed to get all of their amino acids without much effort.
The vegetable proteins richest in amino acids
Protein: 4.4g per 100g
Quinoa looks like couscous semolina, but is much more nutritious. Rich in fibre, iron, magnesium and manganese, quinoa is an excellent substitute for rice.
Proteins: 36g per 100g
Soy is a complete protein and is the substitute of choice for vegetarians. When it comes to tofu, which is the most well-known soy product, choose the stiffer one because that means it’s higher in protein.
Spirulina + seeds or nuts
Proteins: 63g per 100g
Contrary to popular belief, this seaweed is not a complete protein because it lacks methionine and cysteine. Simply add seeds, oatmeal or nuts to provide these two essential amino acids.
Peanut butter + wholemeal bread
Protein: 22g per 100g
Although very high in calories, this snack provides all the essential amino acids and plenty of good fatty acids.
What must be concluded is that whenever we combine legumes such as beans or lentils with seeds such as wheat, rice, we obtain a complete protein.