Protein is essential in everyone's diet. Yet it is even more important if you are actively working to increase your muscle definition and strength. It doesn’t matter if you are a meat eater; a vegetarian or a vegan, there is plenty of protein sources out there for you to choose from.
Proteins are formed from strings of amino acids, which are basically the building blocks of your muscles as well as most other cells in your body! There are 20 different amino acids from which proteins are formed, yet incredibly your body can actually produce many of them itself. There are 9 essential amino acids, however, that need to be gained through your diet.
Complete proteins - Complete protein sources contain all 9 essential amino acids in one go. Sources of complete proteins include:
- Red meats
- Dairy (eg cottage cheese)
- Soy beans
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
Incomplete proteins - Incomplete protein sources contain some of the 9 essential amino acids and can be found in:
- Seeds and nuts
Getting the right combination
Just because a certain type of food doesn’t contain complete proteins, doesn’t mean it isn’t still a fantastic source. By combining different types of incomplete proteins your body will be getting all the essential amino acids that you need on a daily basis. You don’t even have to eat them all in one meal; however it is easy to combine incomplete sources together because they often make delicious companions!
Combining legumes or grains with nuts and seeds will give you a complete protein rich in all 9 essential amino acids, for example oatmeal with almond flakes. Another popular combination is a bean or lentil dish with brown rice or one of my favourite combinations is hummus and vegetable sticks!