Not all proteins are created equally; especially when it comes to animal and plant-based proteins, these two protein sources have different amounts of essential amino acids. But does that matter? I think so.
How do we determine protein quality?
1. Amino acid composition - building blocks of protein
2. Digestibility - How easily do we break down the protein into amino acids.
3. Bioavailability - Ability to absorb and utilize single amino acids (includes chemical integrity, digestibility and freedom from interference).
Now that we know that, we can discuss the different between plant and animal proteins.
1. Plant proteins are NOT complete proteins and therefore do not contain all the essential amino acids.
2. Plant proteins have reduced digestibility. This is part has to do the fiber content of plant proteins, but also the structure of plant proteins is different (a beta-sheet formation) making it harding to digest in the small intestine. This means these proteins/amino acids are more likely to pass into the colon and not be absorbed.
3. Plants contain compounds like physic acid, protease inhibitors (protein digesting enzymes) tannins, etc. that prevents these proteins from being digested by your gut juices.
1. The lower amount of essential amino acids are not as anabolic and can limit muscle protein synthesis.
2. Animal proteins (fish, eggs, beef, poultry, etc.) provide more ‘bang for your buck.’ Calorie for calorie they provide more protein and less carbs than a plant-based protein. You would have to eat more 10 oz of Tofu to equal 3 oz of lean grass fed beef.
3. This does not mean you can’t get enough protein eating plants only. It means you have to eat A LOT more, with more calories, carbs and a diversity of them to equal the amount of protein from animal sources.
4. Plants have over benefits, and by no means should you stop eating your broccoli.
5. Your nutrition should be personalized to your biochemical individuality