By : Apeksha Thakkar Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Nutrigenomic Counselor

Know the proteins you consume!

Protein content in the food is largely classified, depending on its amino acid content. They are majorly categorized as complete and incomplete. Complete proteins are the foods that supply all 9 essential amino acids in just enough quantity to support growth and development. Incomplete, on other hand possibly lack in one or more amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks of proteins and are categorized as essential and non-essential respectively.

Essential amino acids are the ones which cannot be synthesized in the body; thus, they need to be supplied through dietary sources regularly. The essential ones can be processed in the body and do not need to be supplied through daily diet. Complete or incomplete protein largely depends on profile of amino acids that food has. There are 23 vital, identified amino acids which are required for human metabolic activities. The physiological state of the person largely determines its amino acids requirements. For instance, infants and growing children pose more requirement of amino acids.

Below table shows types of essential and nonessential amino acids: -


Essential Amino acids Non-essential Amino Acids



Iso leucine



Aspartic Acid


Glutamic Acid









Whey protein is however, the most absorbable and digestible form of protein, which has impressive amino acids profile, as it is a complete protein. It has great composition of branch chained amino acids (BCAA), which help in muscle development.

Let’s look how complete and incomplete composition and examples look like.

Complete proteins: - Meat, poultry, cow’s milk, eggs are some examples of complete proteins. Most animal sources of proteins are classified as complete proteins due to their reference and complete amino acid profile. Complete proteins especially eggs are considered reference protein for their near to perfect.

Incomplete proteins: - Protein derived from plant source lack enough amounts of one or more amino acids. thus, the protein of plants is called incomplete proteins. Grains, pulses, seeds, are some examples of incomplete proteins. Different kind of pant foods can be combined to provide all the amino acids available.

Complementing plant and animal sources together, can help to make all the amino acids available. For vegetarians, addition of legumes in daily diet becomes extremely critical as legumes are classified as plants having roots of nitrogen fixing bacteria, which help in improving nitrogen content of them. Nitrogen plays an integral part in protein metabolism. Overall daily balance in intake of protein rich foods is more important, than individual meals for healthy adults.

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