Proteins and carbohydrates are macronutrients that are required for body functions, and due to this, they are an essential part of our diet. The amino acids in protein are required for building, repairing, and maintaining the structures of the body. They are available from both plant and animal proteins in the food. This is because, unlike other macronutrients, our body does not store proteins, and they must come from the diet. Quite often, we hear that we cannot get enough protein from a plant-based diet, but this is not true. In this article, we investigate the difference between animal and plant proteins.
An Overview About Proteins
Proteins are found throughout our body from the muscles, organs, hair, skin, neurotransmitters, hormones, and so on. This is because they are one of the essential building blocks of our biology and are made up of amino acids. For the normal functioning of our body, 22 types of amino acids are required. Of these, our body cannot produce nine of them, and they are called essential amino acids. Any food that contains these nine essential amino acids is referred to as a complete protein source. Finally, the main difference between animal and plant proteins is that the latter is not a complete protein source.
Plant VS Animal Protein
As already stated, proteins are made up of amino acids, and the body gets them by breaking down proteins found in food. The major difference between plant and animal protein is their amino acid profile. It is generally believed that our body needs complete sources of protein, and animal-based food is a good source. Listed below are some animal products that are complete sources of protein.
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, whey, curd, yogurt, etc.
- Different types of eggs.
- Red meat from cows, bison, and venison.
- Sources of poultry like chicken, quails, and turkey.
Plant-based food is generally not a complete protein source because they lack at least one of the essential amino acids. But there are exceptions like buckwheat and quinoa that are complete protein sources. Because of this, people who follow a plant-based diet, especially vegetarians and vegans are asked to eat a variety of foods so that they get all essential amino acids from their diet. Listed below are plant-based food that are great sources of protein.
- Whole grains
- Fruits like avocados
Apart from these, there are other plant-based food that contains high amounts of protein, and this includes many local products. Including them in your food ensures that you eat a balanced plant-based diet.
The Amount Of Protein Your Body Needs
Studies show that your body needs a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.35 grams per pound. So, a minimum of 60 grams of protein per day is required for a person who weighs 165 pounds. This amount can increase if you are trying to lose weight and build muscles. Also, athletes and others who are involved in sports require higher daily dietary protein intake.
Choosing Between Sources Of Plant And Animal Protein
Apart from protein content, you must also consider micronutrients like minerals and vitamins in the food you eat. Most animal-based foods are good sources of vitamin B12 and heme iron that is easily absorbed by our body, while plant-based food lacks these two nutrients. Plant foods are rich sources of antioxidants that protect the body from damage due to oxidative stress and contain fiber that helps to maintain the health of the digestive system. Most animal-based food products have high amounts of saturated fat that are bad for cardiovascular health.
Benefits Of The Sources Of Plant-Based Protein
The foods that are sources of plant-based protein helps with weight loss and weight management. This is because they have lower calorie density and higher fiber content when compared to animal-based food. So, by consuming more plant-based food, you can reduce your calorie intake. Apart from this, it reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, type 2 diabetes, etc. It improves gut health and immunity because both are linked. Above all, a plant-based diet helps with the overall improvement in health, and many athletes are switching to it due to these reasons.
Listed below are the protein content of