Plant vs Animal Protein

There is no questioning the importance of protein in your daily diet, right?  I mean, think about it - You ARE protein for the most part. 

Most of your tissues, hormones, and enzymes are made up of some sort of protein. Many cells, tissues, blood, and antibodies can be rebuilt using protein, which makes it a vital component of our recovery.

So which is better, plant vs animal protein?

In this blog, we’re going to look at these two sources of protein and tell you everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision about what's best for you.

Deal?

Incomplete vs Complete...Does it Really Matter?

There are two types of protein-containing foods - Complete and incomplete.

Whether they are complete or incomplete depends on the amino acid profile of that food. 

Complete proteins contain all essential amino acids and are usually animal foods.

On the other hand, we have plant foods, which have an incomplete protein content, due to the fact that most plants lack certain essential amino acids. 

Now, even though animal products may seem like the easiest and most obvious way to get your full amino acid profile, you CAN do the same with just plants.

The simplest and best way to do so is to combine different sources of plant proteins (i.e beans and rice). 

In doing so, you will allow each food to compensate for the lack of certain amino acids, in the food it is combined with.  Your liver helps by storing various essential amino acids over the course of a day for use later on. In other words, you don’t need to worry about eating complementary plant foods simultaneously, as long as you're eating a variety of nutritious foods.

This is in fact one of the main principles of vegetarian and vegan nutrition, as it allows you to meet your daily protein needs with ease!

There are many who wrongfully assume that vegetarians and vegans are automatically deprived of protein.

However, that is not the case. 

The fact is that if a plant-based individual has a rational, balanced nutrition plan, there will be no deprivation of protein! 

The Best Plant Protein Sources 

Nuts, peas, beans, soy products, and grain plants are some of the best plant protein sources that can replace conventional animal products.

Different proteins are found in these various foods, each with its own set of amino acids. 

The facts? All of these products are at the top of the list of plant protein sources!

Nevertheless, there are MANY other plant products that you can use to meet your essential protein needs.

Below is a list of the most common plant-based products and their protein content (per 100g).

Plant foods

Protein content per 100 gr

Avocado

2

Asparagus

2.2

Almonds

21

Bananas

1.09

Beans

21 to 25 depending on the type of beans

Broccoli

2.82

Brussels sprouts

3.38

Short grain white rice

6.5

Long grain white rice

7.13

Medium grain white rice

6.5

Mushrooms

1.8

Canned mushrooms

3.4

Green peas

5.42

Green beans

1.82

Green olives

1.03

Kale

2

Apricots

1.4

Non-peeled potatoes

2.02

Cauliflower

1.98

Long grain brown rice

7.94

Medium grain brown rice

7.5

Cashew

18

Kiwi

1.14

Iceberg salad

1.2

Dill

1

Wheat germs

7.49

Lin seed

1

Hazelnuts

15

Lentils

26

Pasta

10.8

Lettuce

1.21

Oats

16.89

Walnuts

15

Eggplant

1

Millet

11.02

Rye

10

Sweet potato

1.57

Soy

36.9

Spinach

2.86

Sesame

18

Pumpkin

1

Zucchini

1.2

Nuts

26

Peanut butter

25

Bread

7.1

Corn

9.42

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions in the fitness world, whether it’s about fat loss or muscle gain.

Now, there is no definitive answer to this question, due to the fact that we all process and use protein at slightly different rates.

Nevertheless, there are general guidelines, which recommend consuming 0.8-1g of protein per lb. of bodyweight. 

The more muscle mass you have, the higher on that range you would be.

For instance, if you weigh 200 lbs and have 10% body fat, you would need right about 1g of protein per lb. of bodyweight. 

On the other hand, if you weigh 200 lbs but are at 20% body fat, you’d need less protein.

Whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose fat, consuming ~1g of protein per lb. of body weight appears to be the optimal range, for both muscle gains and muscle retention.

Conclusion

Even though protein from animal foods provides a more obviously “complete” amino acid profile than plant protein, there really is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to meet their protein needs by eating just plants alone.

As vegetarian or vegan, you would need to be more mindful, but as long as you combine different sources of plant protein (i.e legumes, grains and beans), you will be good to go!

Ultimately, your best bet would be to consume up to 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight every day, derived from a variety of sources.

Whether you are meeting your needs or not, can be judged on how you perform, recover, and feel.

What is YOUR favorite plant protein source? Comment down below!

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