Meat-eaters and vegans regularly butt heads when it comes to getting their protein.
Animal protein enthusiasts will tell you that the only way to get the optimal amount of protein in your diet is to consume meat such as steak and chicken.
Those who trust in plant power scoff at the idea that the only way we can get enough protein is to consume animals. Plenty of fitness enthusiasts recover effortlessly through a vegan lifestyle, all through a good combination of plant protein.
So, which is best? If you are confused by how much animal or plant protein your body needs, take a look at which will most benefit your health.
Protein is broken down into amino acids. Amino acids from protein can be used for a range of functions, including tissue repair, hormones, neurotransmitters and digestion.
The amount of amino acids varies from one protein source to the next, meaning some ‘sources of protein’ are better for the body than others. As the body needs 22 types of amino acids, the best protein sources are those which offer up a good amount of each of these types. These are called ‘complete’ sources of protein.
Complete animal protein sources
Complete plant protein sources
- Hemp Seed
- Spirulina (try this Almond Butter + Spirulina bar for a healthy protein-rich treat)
These are the protein sources which can be consumed by themselves and still fit the required amino acid ratio the body needs. Other protein sources are good – including grains, legumes and veggies – but not considered ‘complete’ so must be consumed with other items. Some examples include:
- Chickpeas and cruciferous vegetables
- Chicken and avocado salad
- Wholegrain bread with 100 per cent peanut butter
- Eggplant with quinoa
Is Animal or Plant Protein Better For Me?
Animals proteins do tend to have more amino acids than plant proteins, these including tryptophan (the sleep protein), lycine and methionine. However, this does not mean you should only eat animal protein to get all of your amino acids.
As mentioned above, you can create healthy combinations of plant proteins to enjoy a complete protein intake. As well as this, animal protein is naturally higher in sulphur-containing amino acids which can lead to calcium depletion. Not only does this cause brittle bones but also memory loss and severe muscle cramps.
How much animal/plant protein should I eat?
Protein intake recommended for adults is 0.36g per pound of body weight, which translates to 64g for an average 180lb man. Your food’s packaging should show its protein total so you can see how much you’re consuming throughout the day.
If you are more interested in consuming animal protein, it is important to not over-do it as too much protein can be harmful to the body. A good balance of protein sources is recommended from both animal and plant sources. However, if you are vegetarian, vegan or dairy-free, it pays to consume more of the complete protein sources over all.