A Detailed Amino Acid Profiles for Protein Sources: Animal VS Plant
Many of us work to attain glowing skin, stronger hair, or larger muscles. But have you ever wondered what they are actually made of? Protein – Yes! It makes up to 20% of your body. Proteins also play a major role in the formulation of our enzymes and hormones. However, our body does not have a mechanism to store it. This makes it essential for us to consume adequate protein through various plants and animal protein sources.
People often argue that plant protein is superior to animal protein. Does this hold true? To an extent, yes! Plant-based proteins have the potential to help you with weight management, cancer prevention, and diabetes management. They also have a positive impact on the environment (1).
But when it comes to amino acids, both plant and animal protein sources differ based on their amino acid (the molecules that bind together to form proteins) composition.
Altogether, there are 20 amino acids that are involved in our metabolism and structure. Animal-based protein sources like eggs, meat, dairy products, etc. have a complete amino acid profile (all the 20 amino acids). On the other hand, plant-based protein sources lack one or more of these amino acids (2). This has been particularly studied in plant-based protein sources like wheat, soy, and rice.
The Amino Acid Profile In Protein
Our body needs all 20 amino acids to function efficiently. It can create 11 of these amino acids and relies on dietary protein sources for the other nine amino acids. Hence, beyond the source of protein that you prefer, it is also essential to consider the amino acid profile.
Consuming all the amino acids through diet might help you in the following ways:
- Improve mood and sleep quality
- Boost exercise performance
- Prevent muscle loss
- Promote weight loss
Fact-time: The 9 amino acids that you require from your diet are leucine, isoleucine, histidine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, valine, and tryptophan.
Good sources of proteins are the ones that contain all of these nine amino acids. Both plant and animal-based foods have such sources of proteins. For instance, quinoa, eggs, turkey, cottage cheese, mushrooms, fish, legumes, and beans, etc. are packed with the essential amino acids that your body requires for optimum functions.
Sources: Eggs, meat, dairy, fish, seafood
Animal proteins are mostly referred to as high-quality protein sources as they contain all the amino acids. Thus, consuming them can support the vital functions of our body. However, foods like red meat or processed meat, although being good sources of protein, have been associated with an increased risk of heart diseases, and strokes (4). Hence, lean cuts of meat, eggs, dairy products like cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. are advisable when you consider animal proteins.
Sources: Nuts and oilseeds, beans and legumes, whole grains like quinoa, vegetables like broccoli, etc.
Plant-based foods might lower your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and strokes (5). But do these foods fulfill our protein requirements? Yes! For instance, quinoa contains complete proteins i.e. all of the 9 essential amino acids. Further, if you consume a variety of plant-based protein sources, you can take in all the amino acids even on a plant-based diet.
Sources: Soybean, Tofu, Tempeh, Soymilk, Soy curd
Soy protein is packed in a legume referred to as Soybean. It is a plant-based protein source that contains 9 essential amino acids. Alongside, you can also make some fiber, zinc, calcium, and B-vitamins available to your body while consuming soy protein. It may also reduce your cholesterol and triglycerides and work towards cancer prevention (6).
Sources: Milk and milk products, whey protein supplements available in the market
Whey is a protein exclusively packed in milk. It is isolated during the cheese manufacturing process. Consuming whey protein may enhance your muscle strength, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and help you manage diabetes (7). It is a part of several infant formulas to improve their growth. Whey supplements are also available in the market in different formulations.
The Best Source of Protein and All Essential Nutrients on a Plant-based Diet
So, can a plant-based diet deprive you of protein? Absolutely not, if you add a good source of proteins to your diet! Quinoa and soy are the best among them. Apart from these, combining certain foods like beans and rice can also provide you with a complete amino acid profile. And don’t forget the vegetables, nuts, and oilseeds, that add many essential amino acids to your body. Further, these plant-based foods also contain dietary fibers, and essential micronutrients like B-vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, magnesium, iron, and antioxidants that you require for a healthy and optimally functional body. Master the art of 'Attaining First Class Protein from a Plant-based Diet.'
About The Author
Disha Doshi is an expert nutritionist with a post-graduation degree specializing in nutrigenomics along with nutrition and dietetics. She has worked with multiple organizations in her career and has a diverse background in life sciences and healthcare. With an additional flair for writing, Ms Disha comprises a perfect mix for an ideal healthcare marketing professional. While having worked on weight loss, endocrine disorders, cardiac disorders, and other lifestyle issues, she also has steady experience in biochemistry and molecular biology disciplines. Apart from that, she has also worked on balancing the human gut microbiome with diet, nutrigenomic dietary practices, and corporate nutrition. With a keen interest in Ayurveda, she is also engaged in linking the age-old Ayurvedic practices with modern dietary practices.
All in all, being on a plant-based diet can never create protein inadequacy in your body if you choose the right sources and a combination of foods!