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Quality Protein

Utsav Agrawal
Utsav Agrawal
All protein sources are not equal, there are a few criteria you should look for when discussing quality protein.

1) Is it a complete protein? Meaning does it have all 20 amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Many plant sources of protein are incomplete, meaning they don’t have all 20 amino acids, these foods have to be combined with others to complete the chain, eating peanut butter on a slice of toast for example.

2) Does it have ample leucine and BCAA’s? Almost all plant-based and some animal-based protein sources such as collagen are extremely low in the branched-chain amino acids and the amino acid leucine(the key trigger for Muscle Protein Synthesis and quality protein). Much research shows you need a minimum of 2.5g of leucine per bolus to trigger MPS and an anabolic response.

3) Does it offer a dense amount of protein per volume of food? To put this simply, 125 grams of chicken breast would yield about 30gms of protein and around 200 kcals. At the same time, if you try to have 30 grams protein of protein from almonds (not a great source of protein) then you have to consume 820 kcal 

There is also the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) in which protein sources are scored based on their bioavailability, their amino acid content and their ability for humans to digest it, check it out if you have doubts about protein quality. When it comes to protein intake quality matters but still the priority should be to complete the protein intake of the day and if you choose to live a plant-based life, you must be aware and vigilant about getting ample quality protein in your diet. Long term effects of not taking quality protein would have few side effects similar to not taking a protein in the first place.

References - 
1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27903833/ 
2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26817506/
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/16187015/