What are some of your staple complete protein combinations and their ratios? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-09-2013, 08:00 AM
 
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Hi all,

 

I think I'm starting to become protein deficient since going vegan a few months ago.  It's probably due to not having the right ratios when combining.  I know for example corn and pinto beans is 2:1 for it to be of the same protein quality as milk.  I've been eating mostly lentils with walnuts and taking hemp protein.  There's a bit of soy in my diet too but I can't strictly rely on soy.  I don't eat wheat and I don't have rice on a daily basis--I am mostly grain free... So no rice and beans for protein combos. 

 

Two questions:

 

1) What are some of your day-to-day non-grain protein sources and their complement ratios?  If anyone knows what the best complement for green peas is and its ratio that would be great since I currently have 5lbs in the freezer.

 

2) I need 40g protein a day.  Of those 40g protein, does that equate to complete protein like a person would get from eating 40g animal protein or is it 40g any type of plant protein (does not have to be complete)?  I don't want to be deficient in any of the essential amino acids.

 

Thanks!

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#2 Old 09-09-2013, 09:43 AM
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first of all how do you know you are deficient in protein?  did you get a physical and testing done recently?

 

protein combination and complimentary proteins is a myth.  you don't need to combine foods to get a complete protein profile. just eat a variety regularly.

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#3 Old 09-09-2013, 10:15 AM
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Quinoa is a complete protein by itself. I do not know if you lump it in with grains to be avoided, but it is a great food for vegans. I think you are working so much harder than you need to be. You do not need to have all of your proteins be complete and if you eat a varied diet it will likely happen on its own. 40g of protein is very easy to get without much effort (although consensus seams to be 35g for females and 45g for males, so if you are a male you should aim for 45g). I think a lot of people only count the products they expect to find protein in: like beans or a veggie burger patty. But there is protein in you fruits and vegetables and bread that count too and they add up. Typically your body will let you know when you are missing something so pay attention (but don't develop hypochondriasis!). I stopped paying attention to my protein a while ago and seem to be very healthy. When in doubt eat some beans.
I do not know my ratios but my go to proteins are legumes (especially black or kidney beans), soy milk, quinoa, avocado, hummus, mushrooms, and tempeh. I like to put either mashed avocado or hummus on pretty much everything that I eat. Also nutritional yeast is a great food to fill in some of the gaps in your diet, especially if it is fortified with B12.

So far as I know no one on veggie boards is a nutritionist. Although many of us are well informed, if you have concerns you should visit a dietician or other physician.
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#4 Old 09-09-2013, 10:16 AM
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Here's a good article on it. http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/articles/get-enough-protein-veg-diet.php

You really don't need to combine proteins in a certain ratio. smiley.gif
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#5 Old 09-09-2013, 10:20 AM
 
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@luvourmother I haven't gotten blood work done because I've only been plant-based for 3 months.  I'm concerned about protein intake because I noticed my nails currently have white lines across them (Muehrcke’s Nails) which is the first sign of a protein deficiency or a liver problem.  I don't drink alcohol and have no prior history of liver problems so I am deducing it's from my diet change and lack of protein or I am eating enough protein but the quality of the protein/amino acid profile is not giving me adequate nutrition in the protein department.  I had no lines on my nails when I still had some dairy and eggs before going 100% plant based.

 

More info on Muehrcke’s Nails here-

http://www.doctorshangout.com/profiles/blogs/what-does-it-mean-if-you-have

 

Even though vegan/vegetarians can be laxed about combining proteins at every meal, I read that different protein combinations are still needed for a 24 hour period because that is how long the amino acids from food are stored.   That's why I don't always combine at every meal but I do make sure to eat my complements within that 1-2 day window. 

 

I am curious as to what long-term vegans have been eating as their staple protein on a daily basis... how often it is eaten, portion size, etc.   Those sites I've been on only give you charts to mix-match but no portion sizes.   This is important because Hemp protein, Quinoa, Soybeans are all lacking in 1 essential amino acid so if a person doesn't combine, they will not able to get methionine or valine. 

 

@LedBoots - great site.  I just looked at their Essential Amino Acid breakdown chart:

http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/articles/plant-food-protein-chart.pdf

Thanks.   This was the info I was looking for...  Need to see what each plant-food is lacking in their essential amino acid profile.  :)

 

@natty6  Thanks for your daily food-intake list of items! I haven't made hummus a staple yet..but that seems like a great way to get most of my protein for the day when I am busy.. I've been freezing lentil-walnut loaves for the past month to save time.  

 

Thank you all for the great info!

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#6 Old 09-09-2013, 10:37 AM
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Do you maintain your cuticles? I do not mean to belittle your concern over your nails and you may full well have Muehrcke's nails and need a blood test, but those spots/lines are very commonly a result of trauma to the nail beds. If you get manicures or work on your cuticles yourself, that could cause the lines. Any trauma may do it.
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#7 Old 09-09-2013, 10:42 AM
 
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Oh no it's fine.  I don't have manicures.  Thanks for asking though! 

 

Just need to monitor minor physical changes during the diet transition...hopefully the lines will go away after I incorporate some of the foods you pointed out.  :) 

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#8 Old 09-09-2013, 06:33 PM
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http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein

 

Make sure you get enough of the amino acid lysine. If you are getting enough lysine you are probably getting enough protein.

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#9 Old 09-09-2013, 07:13 PM
 
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I would second luvourmother, in that, are you sure you're actually protein deficient? I really don't eat very well, suffering from bouts of binge eating issues for years. I would literally start my day with a bag of crisps and continue in that fashion for days and days, sometimes weeks. Only in the last week or so have I made a vow to eat better, I've certainly never monitored my portions and I am not deficient in anything, as shown by recent bloods.

 

Despite all the hoo-ha about protein and iron deficiency in veggies, I think it's actually pretty hard to achieve.

 

I don't know anything about protein combinations or ratios but I can tell you what I have ... I drink soy milk, eat tofu in many forms, soy beans, nuts and the odd substitute which generally has some form of protein in there.

 

Look after yourself :)

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#10 Old 09-09-2013, 09:28 PM
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I wonder how many vegans are ex-vegans because someone told them they "didn't have to worry about protein".

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#11 Old 09-10-2013, 12:03 AM
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protein combination and complimentary proteins is a myth.  you don't need to combine foods to get a complete protein profile. just eat a variety regularly.
There is no myth here, the proteins you consume need to be complete for human needs and since most plant proteins aren't complete you have to be compliment.......you just don't have to do it on a meal-by-meal basis but daily protein intake should be complete.
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Only in the last week or so have I made a vow to eat better, I've certainly never monitored my portions and I am not deficient in anything, as shown by recent bloods.
Your typical blood tests aren't going to tell you anything about whether your protein intake is adequate and while its difficult for someone in a developed country to under consume protein enough to develop a protein deficiency diseases its not that difficult to have chronically low protein intake which does have long-term health consequences.
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#12 Old 09-10-2013, 12:26 AM
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I'm concerned about protein intake because I noticed my nails currently have white lines across them (Muehrcke’s Nails) which is the first sign of a protein deficiency or a liver problem. 
I've seen this happen with people first-hand, nail and hair health is one of the first things to go south when protein intake is low because they are made from protein and the body starts to prioritize available protein for critical functions. When you see vegans with thin hair and weak nails, low protein intake is usually the reason for it.

What you're point out is true, the body doesn't store protein so you do need to make sure that your daily intake is more or less complete but calculating ratios is overkill. Assuming an overall balanced diet, if you consume 3~4 servings of legumes a day and 2~3 servings of grains a day you should have no trouble meeting your protein needs. I would focus on this instead of trying to calculate ratios.

As for protein requirements, 40 grams is too low. For an averaged size woman the recommendation is for 46 grams and its 54 grams for an average sized man. But recommendations, as you seemed to noticed, are for the general population which eats meat. There are two issues for vegans, first the issue you are bringing up about the incompleteness of plant proteins and second the absorption rate of protein from foods. Protein from animal foods is absorbed, on average, at a higher rate than plant foods. But legumes (and grains) can come to the rescue here as well, the protein in cooked legumes is absorbed at similar rates as meat and cooked grains aren't too fair behind. Nuts, vegetables, etc are so-so. Because of this some recommend higher values for vegans, for example more like 55 grams for women and 65 grams for men.

And just to note, it will take a few months for your nails to return to normal so give dietary changes some time.
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This is important because Hemp protein, Quinoa, Soybeans are all lacking in 1 essential amino acid so if a person doesn't combine, they will not able to get methionine or valine. 
I think you may have the wrong definition of "complete protein" in mind, none of these are lacking an essential amino acid. A protein is complete if it has all 9 essential amino acids in the right ratio for human needs. So a protein can contain all 9 essential amino acids and be incomplete, its incomplete when one or more of the proteins occurs at levels that are too low (in relation to the others) for human needs.

Soy, and some other legumes, are actually complete proteins though.
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#13 Old 09-10-2013, 04:33 AM
 
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prismcolor : I don’t want to bellittle the appearance of Muehrcke’s Nails (I had no idea what it was). I have been suffering from that as a teen. I remember marking my finger with a pen to see how fast those white lines went up... For a long time, they didn’t move. I never made anything about it (teenagers live forever), so I was surprised to recognize it on some pictures.

However, it “can” be link to protein deficiency or liver problems. I can tell you when I had them I had absolutely no protein deficiency – I was an omnivore in those days, and ate meat at least two times a day.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t seek the help of a dietetician or get a blood test, on the contrary, just saying that you shouldn’t jump too fast to conclusions. I don’t think three months is too early to get a blood test. My doctor told me it was a right amount of time to see the effects of my new vegan diet when I asked her. (And aside from vitamin D, I was A-Ok, protein, hormone and vitamins included, and vitamin D has nothing to do with my diet).

Logic : Thin hair and brittle nails can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism. Even vegans can have hypothyroidism.

And by the way, my Muehrcke’s Nails are long gone now. No, they didn’t fall off ( ha ha), but the lines are gone.

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#14 Old 09-10-2013, 09:09 AM
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There is no myth here, the proteins you consume need to be complete for human needs and since most plant proteins aren't complete you have to be compliment.......you just don't have to do it on a meal-by-meal basis but daily protein intake should be complete.
Your typical blood tests aren't going to tell you anything about whether your protein intake is adequate and while its difficult for someone in a developed country to under consume protein enough to develop a protein deficiency diseases its not that difficult to have chronically low protein intake which does have long-term health consequences.
It is a myth:
http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/diet-myths-complementary-protein-myth-wont-go-away.html
http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html
http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/apr/protein.htm

Essentially all amino acid requirements can be satisfied with sufficient calories from just potatoes.

Low protein intake is concurrent with low calorie intake. If sufficient calories are consumed, protein levels will most likely be adequate. Add in "from a variety of plants regularly" and it's practically impossible not to get enough protein for the average person.
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#15 Old 09-10-2013, 09:16 AM
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I read a previous post from you where you posted a sample daily menu and I can't help but wonder that you probably just don't eat enough calories. 40g protein is less than half of what I consume (a 130lb breastfeeding woman) and it is not too difficult to do when you are eating a normal amount of calories.

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#16 Old 09-10-2013, 09:20 AM
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It also looks like you've eliminated plenty of vegan staples so.... if you don't want to eat rice daily, you don't want a lot of tofu, no grains, I think a focus on combining proteins is distracting you from the more major issue: you've taken staple foods out of an already limited diet, likely under eating for your height/weight due to a lack of calories (common when eliminating so many food groups), and there are eventually going to be health consequences to pay for that.

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#17 Old 09-10-2013, 09:21 AM
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@luvourmother I haven't gotten blood work done because I've only been plant-based for 3 months.  I'm concerned about protein intake because I noticed my nails currently have white lines across them (Muehrcke’s Nails) which is the first sign of a protein deficiency or a liver problem.  I don't drink alcohol and have no prior history of liver problems so I am deducing it's from my diet change and lack of protein or I am eating enough protein but the quality of the protein/amino acid profile is not giving me adequate nutrition in the protein department.  I had no lines on my nails when I still had some dairy and eggs before going 100% plant based.

More info on Muehrcke’s Nails here-
http://www.doctorshangout.com/profiles/blogs/what-does-it-mean-if-you-have
Ok, first of all the blog you linked directly suggests seeing a doctor and getting blood tests done.
Second, the picture in the link is not muehrcke's, it is nail trauma. Confusing why they would put a picture of something they describe is exactly not muehrcke's : "Muehrcke’s nails usually extend across the entire nail bed horizontally from edge to edge whereas trauma lines typically only involve a portion of the nail and affect only a few fingers"
Third, it is very unlikely that a protein deficiency can occur if adequate calories are consumed. Make sure you are eating around 2,000 calories per day.
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#18 Old 09-10-2013, 09:24 AM
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I'll give you an example of today's lunch. Soup. 200g tofu (34g protein), 79g brown rice noodles (6g protein), 1 onion, 3 garlic, 2 cup veggie broth (4g protein), 2 cups dark greens (4g protein), plus mushrooms and sesame oil.

 

That's 48g protein in one vegan soup, a decent amount of carbs, and a good number of healthy oils. 40g should not be a problem, maybe some cooking help can fix this.

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#19 Old 09-10-2013, 10:28 AM
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http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/diet-myths-complementary-protein-myth-wont-go-away.html
http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html
http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/apr/protein.htm
Essentially all amino acid requirements can be satisfied with sufficient calories from just potatoes.

Low protein intake is concurrent with low calorie intake. If sufficient calories are consumed, protein levels will most likely be adequate.
The second article you are citing is clearly getting things wrong, the author doesn't seem to understand the definition of a complete protein. The others aren't conflicting with what I've said and they are speaking from a very particular context, namely from the perspective of a diet composed solely of whole plant foods. If one is consuming a diet that is solely based on a variety of whole plant foods one is likely to meet their protein needs....but not because the ideas around complimentary proteins are wrong but instead because your protein intake will usually end up being complimentary on a daily basis. But few people consume this style of diet therefore this sort of information is misleading for the general public. Its not difficult to consume inadequate protein in the context of standard diets when you remove the animal foods.

So while the idea that you have to combine proteins on a per meal basis is "a myth" that was never rooted in science, the idea that you have to consume a diet that provides overall complete proteins on a daily basis is not. The latter simply follows from the fact that humans need a particular ratio of the 9 essential amino acids and since plants usually don't supply that ratio, in themselves, you have to combine a variety of plants together to get it.

Anyhow, the standard recommendations for protein intake for an averaged sized woman is around 45 grams assuming a relatively sedentary lifestyle. But there are good reasons as to why vegans may need to consume more and since we don't have good studies that tell us that the standard recommendations are also appropriate for vegans, a "better safe than sorry" approach would be to consume an extra 10~15 grams. This isn't difficult to achieve and there is no harm in consuming excess plant protein, it will just get converted into carbohydrates if not utilized for tissue synthesis.
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#20 Old 09-10-2013, 10:36 AM
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Logic : Thin hair and brittle nails can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism. Even vegans can have hypothyroidism.
I didn't suggest that low-protein intake was the sole cause of this, it can be caused by a number of diseases and nutritional issues. What I said is that when you see this in vegans especially newer ones, its usually (in my view) the result of inadequate protein intake.
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#21 Old 09-10-2013, 02:51 PM
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 If one is consuming a diet that is solely based on a variety of whole plant foods one is likely to meet their protein needs....but not because the ideas around complimentary proteins are wrong but instead because your protein intake will usually end up being complimentary on a daily basis. But few people consume this style of diet therefore this sort of information is misleading for the general public. Its not difficult to consume inadequate protein in the context of standard diets when you remove the animal foods.
 

 

Processed foods can fit into a diet that meets protein requirements, it does not need to be strictly whole foods.  Many vegans follow this kind of diet and have found no problem getting necessary amino acids.  

 

It is practically impossible not to get enough protein when sufficient calories are consumed.  Any idea the percent of protein deficiency in the US or UK or better yet among vegetarians and vegans? 

 

7 large baked potatoes = 2,000 calories, 52 grams of protein, and more than twice the RDA for amino acids

Eating complimentary foods isn't even necessary to get the daily values of amino acids.

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#22 Old 09-10-2013, 07:37 PM
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Processed foods can fit into a diet that meets protein requirements, it does not need to be strictly whole foods.  
I didn't suggests that processed foods prevent one from meeting their protein requirement, instead I pointed out that you're taking things out of context in regard to the articles you're quoting. In the contest of a diet that consists solely of whole foods its pretty difficult not to consume enough protein because whole foods all contain protein.....but the same can't be said of processed foods. A number of processed foods have been stripped of their protein as such a vegan diet that includes processed foods can easily supply insufficient protein.

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It is practically impossible not to get enough protein when sufficient calories are consumed.  
This is true in the context of a whole foods diet, but its not true in general. There are numerous commonly consumed processed/junk foods that contain little to no protein, meat eaters can get away with consuming these foods because they derive most of their protein from meat where as vegans have to be more careful.
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7 large baked potatoes = 2,000 calories, 52 grams of protein, and more than twice the RDA for amino acids
This would be a whole foods based diet and potatoes happen to contain complete proteins so this example is cherry picked as most plant proteins aren't complete. Consider instead walnuts, 2,000 calories of walnuts would supply around 46 grams of protein but it wouldn't be adequate because walnuts contain too little lysine. Now consider processed foods, 2,000 calories of french fries contains around 25 grams of protein.

These considerations ignore protein absorption rates though, plant proteins are absorbed at lower rates so its very plausible that vegans need to consume more than the recommended intakes.
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#23 Old 09-10-2013, 09:54 PM
 
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OP: More info on Muehrcke’s Nails here-
http://www.doctorshangout.com/profiles/blogs/what-does-it-mean-if-you-have


Second, the picture in the link is not muehrcke's, it is nail trauma. .
Then it appears all I had was nail trauma! (Silly me)

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#24 Old 09-10-2013, 09:58 PM
 
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Logic : Thin hair and brittle nails can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism. Even vegans can have hypothyroidism.
I didn't suggest that low-protein intake was the sole cause of this, it can be caused by a number of diseases and nutritional issues. What I said is that when you see this in vegans especially newer ones, its usually (in my view) the result of inadequate protein intake.
I guess the text I put in bold here wasn’t there. It sounded more like an affirmation than an opinion.

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#25 Old 09-10-2013, 10:00 PM
 
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The second article you are citing is clearly getting things wrong, the author doesn't seem to understand the definition of a complete protein.
Can you enlighten me here? I read the article, and I musn’t understand what a complete protein is either... Any help would be appreciated.

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#26 Old 09-10-2013, 11:48 PM
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My advice: Listen to logic. And get enough lysine.

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#27 Old 09-11-2013, 12:03 AM
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Can you enlighten me here? I read the article, and I musn’t understand what a complete protein is either... Any help would be appreciated.
There are 9 essential amino acids but each of these is utilized at a different rate during protein synthesis so you not only need to consume the 9 essential amino acids but they have to be consumed in the ratio required by the human body otherwise some protein synthesis will not occur, the suggested pattern (abbreviating the amino acids) per gram of protein as specified by the WHO is:

Try: 6 mg
His: 18 mg
Met: 25 mg
Iso: 25 mg
Thre: 27 mg
val: 32 mg
Lys: 51
Phe: 47
Leu: 55

Any protein that does not supply an equal or greater amount of one of the above values is concerned an incomplete protein and any protein that supplies them in equal or greater amounts is complete. The author of the article confuses matters, he looks at the amount of amino acids in select foods when those foods make up your entire diet and suggests that because they meet your protein needs they are "complete", that is wrong, instead what he is showing is that in some cases you can meet your protein needs by consuming incomplete proteins. In these cases you simply have to eat more of the protein. For example, assuming a protein matches the above except that lysine is 40 mg per gram instead of 51 mg, in this case if a woman consumed 46 grams of this protein it wouldn't be sufficient because she wouldn't get enough lysine. But if she consumed 59 grams of this same protein she would meet her protein needs.

But this is why the standard recommendations for protein may be too low for vegans, vegans are more often than not consuming incomplete proteins and the proteins are also absorbed at lower rates.
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#28 Old 09-11-2013, 12:47 AM
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Any protein that does not supply an equal or greater amount of one of the above values is concerned an incomplete protein and any protein that supplies them in equal or greater amounts is complete. The author of the article confuses matters, he looks at the amount of amino acids in select foods when those foods make up your entire diet and suggests that because they meet your protein needs they are "complete", that is wrong, instead what he is showing is that in some cases you can meet your protein needs by consuming incomplete proteins. In these cases you simply have to eat more of the protein. For example, assuming a protein matches the above except that lysine is 40 mg per gram instead of 51 mg, in this case if a woman consumed 46 grams of this protein it wouldn't be sufficient because she wouldn't get enough lysine. But if she consumed 59 grams of this same protein she would meet her protein needs.
.

Therefore proving that combining incomplete proteins is unnecessary and essentially a myth.
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#29 Old 09-11-2013, 04:53 AM
 
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Any protein that does not supply an equal or greater amount of one of the above values is concerned an incomplete protein and any protein that supplies them in equal or greater amounts is complete. The author of the article confuses matters, he looks at the amount of amino acids in select foods when those foods make up your entire diet and suggests that because they meet your protein needs they are "complete", that is wrong, instead what he is showing is that in some cases you can meet your protein needs by consuming incomplete proteins. In these cases you simply have to eat more of the protein. For example, assuming a protein matches the above except that lysine is 40 mg per gram instead of 51 mg, in this case if a woman consumed 46 grams of this protein it wouldn't be sufficient because she wouldn't get enough lysine. But if she consumed 59 grams of this same protein she would meet her protein needs.
.

Therefore proving that combining incomplete proteins is unnecessary and essentially a myth.
I would tend to agree with luvourmother...

logic, wouldn’t the same apply if that same woman ate a piece of flesh in such a quantity that she would only be getting 40g of lysine? Wouldn’t she still have to up the quantity of “this same protein” to get her needs? You’re saying this woman would only have to eat more of the same thing to get a “complete protein”. Why wouldn’t the quantity factor make a flesh protein incomplete, if that makes it so of a plant protein?

The way I read the article, and the way I read your explanation, that simply means you have to up your intake of protein, because the amnio acids content can be lower in plants than in flesh. Not because it is incomplete. And the graph he displays clearly shows that some vegetable proteins give higher ratio of amino acids than the recommended intake. Is that graph just plain wrong?


What I’m wondering, too, is if animals also need those amino acids, or do they get all they need from plant? More particularly, do we know if herbivore animals are able to,produce all the amino acids they need, or if they also need to supplement them through diet?

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#30 Old 09-11-2013, 04:20 PM
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The article I posted a link to above, that speaks about paying attention to lysine, was written by vegan dieticians. Just wanted to point that out.

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