Protein complementation occurs when you eat two protein sources with low biological values. It ensures that you get the lacking amino acid from one source, which your body heavily needs. Therefore, if you decide to have baked beans and toast, you will be complementing since you are drawing from both sources.
Protein is one of the largest components of the human body apart alongside water. It is found in almost all the parts of the body, including the hair and nails. As a result, there are several sources of proteins available to individuals. Despite all the many existing sources, you have to keep in mind that they differ in the types of amino acids. To help you understand this well, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Without amino acids, proteins wouldn’t exist.
There are two main sources of proteins, that is plants and animals. As Biology has it, plants lack several essential amino acids, which must be present in the diet since they play important roles in the body. The only crop that has been found to contain all the eight essential amino acids is quinoa. On the other hand, animal sources such as meat have all the essential amino acids.
Unfortunately, not everybody takes meat. This ranges from medical conditions to religious beliefs and even lifestyle choices. Does it mean that one will go without certain essential amino acids because they do not take meat? No. Protein complementation plays this important role. It occurs when two low biological value proteins are eaten together. This phenomenon, therefore, makes up for the missing amino acids. You will get all the lacking amino acids from each meal, thus making a high biological value meal.
Let us explore what a high biological value and a low biological value meal mean to help you break down all these. Before that, let’s explain the biological value.
Protein Complementation: Biological value
It is worth noting that all proteins are made up of amino acids. There are over twenty of these, which are divided into two main categories. These are the essential and non-essential amino acids. The essential amino acids cannot be manufactured in the body and can only come from your diet. They are mostly eight. The dispensable or non-essential amino acids can be easily produced by the body and does not have to be incorporated in the meal. They are twelve.
The biological value, therefore, refers to the number of amino acids in the protein. Any food that does not contain any of the essential amino acids has a low biological value. A good example is baked beans and several plant proteins. A meal has a high biological value if it contains all the essential amino acids. This is prevalent in most, if not all, of the animal protein sources.
High biological value foods
Most animal sources are high biological value meals. They contain all the essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body. Therefore, you can choose to take meat, be it white or dark, fish, seafood, and dairy foods. One good source of all the essential amino acids is steak, which is not hard to come by. However, when going for such sources, make sure that you settle on the low-fat options. Such foodstuffs have a low amount of saturated fats, which is good for your health. You don’t want to expose yourself to other serious conditions as you enjoy all the essential amino acids.
Low biological value foods
Low biological value sources are mainly plants, meaning that if you are a vegan, most of the food that you eat requires complementation. We are always warned of eating too much beef or animal products, and therefore, a majority of people prefer leading the vegan or vegetarian life. Plant sources include pulses such as peas and beans, lentils, grains, and nuts.
This means you cannot get all the necessary nutrients if you rely on one of these sources. To be on the safer side, eat at least two or three for protein complementation to occur. You can still get all the essential amino even if you avoid meat.
Why do you need all these amino acids?
The body needs all these amino acids for different reasons, remember, they are the building blocks of proteins. The body does a good job of manufacturing twelve of these. It only needs eight from the external sources, such as the food you eat. These essential amino acids support the different functions of proteins in the body. They are therefore necessary for growth, which is one of the most fundamental bodily functions. Proteins, thus, help facilitate growth in different conditions, majorly during pregnancy, and adolescence.
Also, amino acids are required to form antibodies, which are a defense mechanism for the body. Your body will be triggered to produce antibodies when it comes under attack. The main role of these structures is to fight disease-causing pathogens. This function will be impaired if you do not get all the essential amino acids. This is one of the biggest reasons why you need to eat food rich in all the essentials or risk falling ill due to a weak defense system. You want to avoid that.
Proteins play an important role in the repair of damaged tissues and cells. Do not think that growth is the main role. Consequently, you need all these amino acids if you want to recover from your illnesses or injury speedily. Your gym or fitness instructor must have told you that you should take lean meat often to help you with your workout. Well, this is the reason why.
Lastly, keep in mind that proteins are also a source of energy. This may come as a shocker if you have always believed that only carbs can perform this function.
Protein complementation is a real phenomenon. It allows you to get all the missing amino acids in low biological value diets. You can still avoid certain food sources and eat healthily.
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