The Difference Between Complete and Incomplete Protein


The amino acids that make up protein help the body build and repair tissues, digest food and perform countless other important functions. Essential amino acids — histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and valine — can only be obtained from diet.


Proteins are categorized as complete or incomplete proteins, depending on how much of each amino acid they contain.


Protein is important for our bodies in many ways. It forms muscles, transports nutrients, builds and repairs tissue, and helps our cells function properly. But not all proteins are created equal. Some contain all nine essential amino acids, while others are low in one or more of these crucial molecules. The most complete proteins are meat and dairy, while plant foods like legumes, whole grains, certain nuts, and seeds are incomplete proteins.

Most people think they need to eat animal proteins or strategically combine incomplete plant-based foods at every meal in order to get all the essential amino acids they need. While it’s true that most complete proteins come from meat and dairy, it’s also true that some plant foods can be paired together to create complete protein sources. For example, combining rice and beans or peanut butter and wheat bread can provide your body with all the amino acids it needs.

It’s also worth pointing out that most vegetarians and vegans have no problem meeting their protein requirements simply by eating a variety of food. But, if you’re eating a well-balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies, grains, whole nuts and seeds, and plenty of protein-rich vegetables (including beans, tofu, and some nuts) you should be fine. Eating a range of proteins also benefits your gut microbiome, which is another important health factor.


Eggs are a popular breakfast food around the world, and a main ingredient in many recipes. They are a high-quality protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own. Because of this, eggs are often referred to as complete proteins. However, some people may be concerned about eating too many eggs because they contain cholesterol, which is known to raise “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) and lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

The first step in the formation of an egg is for the oocyte to pass through the shell gland, where the oocyte membrane is formed. This membrane is similar to the lining of 단백질보충제 the stomach and intestines, and protects the contents of the egg from bacteria and other microorganisms. After the oocyte passes through the shell gland, it moves into the oviduct where the final steps of formation occur. The oviduct adds layers of calcium carbonate to the shell over a period of 20 hours. The oocyte then rotates to lay the egg large end down, having moved through the oviduct small end up.

When it comes to protein, complete proteins are considered “one-stop shops” because they provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. These proteins include beef, chicken, fish, dairy products, quinoa, and eggs. Plant foods are generally considered incomplete because they lack one or more of the essential amino acids. However, combining several plant foods throughout the day can help to ensure that you are getting all of the amino acids your body needs.


Protein is a nutrient that plays an important role in cell-building, helps repair tissue (including muscle) and provides energy. It’s also used to make hormones and enzymes, and is critical for our health. There are 20 amino acids that our bodies use to function, and 11 can be made by our body, while nine must be obtained through food (these are called essential amino acids).

Protein-rich foods are typically categorized as complete or incomplete proteins based on how many of the essential amino acids they contain. Animal-based foods are generally considered to be complete proteins, and include beef, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy. Some plant-based foods, such as soy, quinoa and buckwheat, are also complete proteins. Plant foods that don’t have all of the essential amino acids are known as incomplete proteins, and include nuts, seeds, legumes (navy and lima beans), grains/cereals, lentils and peas.

Nuts are a healthy snack, and can be a good source of protein. They are also high in fiber, heart-healthy fats and antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E and vitamin B6. Some studies have found that eating nuts can help lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, some people may be allergic to nuts or have other reasons to limit their intake. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor before consuming nuts.


Proteins are made of molecular building blocks called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids your body needs to function properly, with eleven of them being naturally produced by your body and known as nonessential amino acids. The other nine cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from your diet as dietary proteins.

Vegetables are considered incomplete proteins because they are usually low in amino acids like threonine, lysine, tryptophan and valine. However, most people can easily get enough of these essential amino acids by strategically combining vegetable foods like beans, lentils, whole grains and nuts.

This strategy is known as “complementing.” When eaten together, these plant proteins can contain all nine essential amino acids, making them complete proteins. Examples of complementary foods include peanut butter and whole grain bread, hummus and pita, rice and beans or quinoa and edamame.

Beans and peas are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. They also contain a high amount of fiber and valuable nutrients such as iron, zinc and potassium. Popular varieties of beans and peas include kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and soybeans. Vegetables are also a great source of protein, with dark green vegetables being an especially good choice because they are a rich source of dietary fiber and important nutrients such as vitamin A, C, K and potassium. Popular dark-green veggies include bok choy, collard greens, kale and spinach.