One of the most persistent myths about protein? That more is more, especially if you live a fairly active lifestyle. In reality, nutrition experts will argue that it’s actually often about quality over quantity—and that’s true no matter how often you work out. In other words, instead of focusing on how many grams of protein you consume, you might want to consider the source instead. And that’s where the idea of
complete protein comes in.
“When thinking about protein quality, it’s important to consider whether your protein source has a complete amino acid profile,” says Arianne Vance, MPH, Ritual’s Senior Scientist. “To put this simply, protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are a total of 20 amino acids used by the human body, but only 9 of these are considered essential amino acids.” And here’s the kicker: “The human body can’t produce these 9 essential amino acids, so we need to get them from our diet,” she says. (1)
Of the 30 amino acids, the 9 “essential” amino acids are: