One of the most common questions vegetarians and vegans get asked is 'Are you getting enough protein in your diet?'. Women need only 45g of protein per day, which when you think about it is not a whole lot of protein. What is more of a concern with most non-meat eaters is... are you getting enough VARIETY of protein sources in your diet!
To answer this we need a quick and basic science lesson... so here goes...
Protein is made up of 20 individual Amino Acids, so is the muscle tissue in our body. Of these 20 Amino Acids, there are 9 which the body does not have the ability to make for itself. So therefore, like Vitamin C, we need to get it from our diet. When people talk about a 'Complete' protein, they are basically talking about a food which contains all 9 of these Essential Amino Acids. These foods are most commonly animal products such as Beef, Lamb, Pork, Turkey, Fish, Chicken, Eggs and Dairy Products. Some non-animal foods that contain protein include Grains, Beans, Pulses, Nuts and Seeds. The main issue here for Vegetarians and Vegans is that these are not 'Complete' proteins, meaning they do not contain all 9 Essential Amino Acids.
So what do you do if you are Vegetarian or Vegan and want to ensure you have a complete and balanced diet which includes all 9 Essential Amino Acids? Well the answer is simple really... Combine foods and eat a good variety of veg, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses and grains. Each of these will have high amounts of a few of those Essential Amino Acids and low or none of the others. So if you pick a few foods from each category and make sure you eat them all throughout the course of the day then by bed time you will have consumed all 9 Essential Amino Acids, making your diet 'Complete' when Protein is concerned.
In our next Blog will we go into further detain on this and tell you a bit more about which foods combine the best to ensure you get a 'Complete Protein'. We will also tell you a few sneaky Vegetarian and Vegan foods which are already Complete Proteins.