Complete vs. Incomplete Proteins

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Not all proteins are created equal. There are complete proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids needed for an optimal diet and then there are incomplete or partial proteins that are lacking one or more of the essential amino acids.

Sources of complete proteins are meat, fish, milk, yogurt, cheese, poultry and eggs. A cute way to remember the source of a complete protein is that it always comes from something with two eyes (an animal, my husband said I should clarify that).

Example sources of healthy protein with the essential amino acids your body needs that it cannot produce on its own:


1 scoop of Whey Protein Powder – 17 to 19 grams of easily digested protein

1 ounce of meat or fish – 7 grams of protein

1 large egg – 6 grams of protein

A cup of milk – 8 grams of protein

½ cup of cottage cheese – 15 grams of protein

Yogurt 1 cup – 8-12 grams of protein (these vary)


An incomplete protein is missing one or more of the essential amino acids and often also is not in the correct proportions. Sources of incomplete proteins are beans, nuts, seeds and grains. By combining one or more of these with another protein that contains any of the missing essential amino acids that is lacking, will then create a complete protein. Eating a complete combination of essential amino acids in the correct proportions within the same meal accomplishes all the necessary dietary requirements, but it is sometimes not as easy to accomplish as by just eating a complete protein.

Examples of sources of complementary proteins that can be combined to create a complete protein in one meal are:


Seeds with Legumes

Seeds with Dairy

Grains with Legumes

Nuts with Legumes

Grains with Dairy


Either way you make it happen, just make sure you eat your proper protein and get all of those essential amino acids every day!

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