We are all aware about the benefits of proteins and their importance in our diet especially when it comes to muscle building and fitness. But why does it so happen that we often prefer a source of protein over the other? The answer is quality of protein, whether the protein is complete or incomplete protein.
While all proteins you consume get absorbed in varying quantities in your body, there are some proteins who get easily utilized than the rest, these are called complete proteins. The major difference between the complete and incomplete proteins is the presence of amino acids in the food.
Protein is made up of amino acids. there are certain amino acids that our body can make while certain amino acids that cannot be made by our body. The ones that cannot be made by the body are called essential amino acids and should be made available through diet while the ones that can be made by the body are called non-essential amino acids.
Complete Protein: Complete protein contains all essential amino acids and hence possess a much higher utilization rate compared to the incomplete protein sources. Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine are the 9 essential amino acids that are available in complete protein or complete protein sources. All types of protein derived from animal sources are complete sources of protein. Milk, curd, cheese, red meat, Fish, eggs, paneer are all complete sources of protein.
Incomplete Protein: Proteins that do not contain all the essential amino acids that are required by our body as they cannot make it and are hence called incomplete proteins. Most plant sources are sources of incomplete proteins leaving aside a few which contain all the 9 essential amino acids. Also, incomplete protein sources are high on the amount of carbohydrates present in the food. So, the calories derived from such food sources also have the calories from carbs and hence become difficult to use when you are looking at consuming pure protein. Most grains, nuts, seeds, nut butters, green peas and legumes (such as lentils, chick peas, black beans, pinto beans and navy beans) are sources of incomplete proteins.
In case you are vegetarian, a combination of complete and incomplete proteins should be able to help you meet your daily requirement while a non-vegetarian can rely on complete protein sources to fulfil his daily nutritional requirement.