Home Ernährung So kombinieren Sie komplementäre Proteine ​​in einer pflanzlichen Ernährung

So kombinieren Sie komplementäre Proteine ​​in einer pflanzlichen Ernährung

von NFI Redaktion

Among the dietary challenges of vegetarians and vegans, perhaps none receives more attention than the eternal quest for sufficient protein. For those who eat plant-based, it can be hard enough to compete with the sheer protein density of meat and dairy, but the need to combine complementary proteins can make it seem nearly impossible.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of incomplete proteins, keep reading. Below, we discuss what they are, how they vary, and what can be combined to complete them.

What Are Complementary Proteins?

Close-up of plant protein sources | Complementary Proteins

In protein pairing, plant-based foods are combined to round out your overall protein intake, filling in specific amino acids that may be missing or present in low quantities. There are 20 different amino acids, but only nine are considered essential, meaning your body cannot produce them on its own and they must be consumed through diet.

Foods containing all nine essential amino acids (EAAs) have high biological value and are considered „complete proteins.“ While all animal proteins are complete, few plant-based foods meet this criterion. However, you can still obtain all your EAAs from plant-based foods by combining them. This is complementary protein pairing – or whatever you want to call it!

You can think of amino acids as pearls on a protein chain: by stringing together different amounts and types of pearls, your body can create endless possibilities for tissues, hormones, etc. It’s to your advantage to have plenty of pearls lying around, just in case you need them.

Complete vs. Incomplete Plant Proteins

The number of complete plant proteins can be counted on one hand: currently, soy is the only confirmed complete plant protein, despite widespread claims to the contrary. This makes it an ideal protein source for vegans and explains its ubiquity as a meat substitute.

But you can obtain all your EAAs from plant sources – it simply requires a certain balance in your diet. Beans (other than soy), grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables are incomplete protein sources because they lack one or more EAAs or do not contain them in sufficient quantities. However, together they can form complete protein profiles.

The handy table below explains which amino acids are lacking in which plant-based foods, and what you need to combine them with to obtain all nine EAAs. For example, rice and beans are a classic example of protein complementation.

Food Missing Amino Acid Complementary Protein Source
Beans Methionine Grains, Nuts, Seeds
Grains Lysine, Threonine Legumes
Nuts and Seeds Lysine Legumes
Vegetables Methionine Grains, Nuts, Seeds
Corn Tryptophan, Lysine Legumes

Should You Eat Complementary Proteins Simultaneously?

In the past, simultaneous protein complementation was recommended, but today it’s generally believed that as long as you consume them within the same day, you’ll be fine. „Vegetarians and vegans don’t need to worry about complementary foods at every meal. Just focus on a balanced diet,“ advises Maguire.

How to Combine Complementary Proteins

Plate of black beans and rice | Complementary Proteins

Even after reading this, the bean counters (see what we did there?) among us may still want to pair complementary proteins. If it makes your protein accounting efforts even easier, complementary protein pairings occur quite naturally in many traditional cuisines:

  • Beans and Rice
  • Peanut Butter and Whole Wheat Bread
  • Hummus and Pita
  • Tortilla Chips and Bean Dip
  • Oatmeal and Almonds
  • Barley with Lentil Soup

Clearly, there are many delicious complementary protein combinations. Here are three guidelines for those considering protein complementation:

1. Choose Protein-Rich Foods

If you’re following a calorie-restricted diet, it’s a good idea to choose protein-rich plant-based foods – nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, etc. – to ensure you meet your daily needs without blowing your calorie budget. (You should still eat avocado, mushrooms, oats, spinach, broccoli, and kale; they all contain protein, just not as much.)

You also get fiber without taking in calories. Win-win.

2. Eat a Variety of Plant Proteins

The more varied your diet, the less important protein complementation becomes. Variety may be a challenge on a tight budget. In this case, combine a few protein-rich foods whose amino acid profiles complement each other (see table above).

3. Load Up on Complete Proteins

Eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and low-fat milk can boost protein intake for some vegetarians. Obviously, they don’t work for vegans, who can instead turn to organic soy-based foods like tempeh, tofu, and edamame.

Why It’s Harder for Vegetarians and Vegans to Get Enough Protein

A protein-rich diet is valued by especially active individuals, as proteins promote recovery and enhance performance. Consuming proteins post-exercise also helps to stimulate muscle growth and build strength. And when reducing calorie intake for weight loss, a protein-rich snack can help stave off hunger and preserve muscle mass even as you lose weight.

It’s no surprise that vegetarians and vegans consume less protein than omnivores. And as a group, active individuals require more protein than the general population. „Typically, vegan and vegetarian athletes are advised to consume 10% more protein than non-vegetarian athletes,“ says Krista Maguire, RD, Senior Nutrition Manager at BODi.

This is because plant-based proteins are generally less digestible than their animal counterparts. Therefore, vegetarians and vegans need to make smart protein choices to ensure they get enough nutrients to reach their dietary and fitness goals.

Related Posts

Adblock Detected

Please support us by disabling your AdBlocker extension from your browsers for our website.