Amino acids are the building blocks of life. Your body uses them to build new cells and without them you would literally cease to exist. There are 20 amino acids in the body, 11 of which we can actually synthesise ourselves (pretty cool, huh?). The other 9 (isoleucine, histidine, methionine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine), need to be gained from the food we eat. This is why they have been named ‘the 9 essential amino acids’.
Amino acids come from the protein we eat. These different protein sources fall into two categories depending on how many amino acids they contain. If they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids they are called ‘complete proteins’.
Complete protein sources include:
- Red meats
If they only contain some of the 9 essential amino acids then they fall into a group called ‘incomplete proteins’.
Incomplete protein sources include:
The good news about incomplete protein sources though, is that by combining them together you still end up getting all the 9 essential amino acids you need. Don’t stress too much though, because even though many incomplete proteins sources make fantastic meal partners (e.g. Beans and rice), they don’t actually have to be eaten together. As long as you eat them all in the same day then you will be just fine!