What’s a complete protein?
Everyone knows that protein is essential to good health—we need it to feel full, have energy, build and repair muscle, process nutrients, and boost immunity, among other vital roles. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, which is the minimum amount you need to be healthy, is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (0.36 grams per pound) of body weight per day—which is roughly 46 grams for an average woman. But not all protein sources are equal. Only some are “complete proteins,” which means they contain all the essential amino acids—those building blocks of proteins that we must get from food—in the perfect proportion for our dietary needs. Animal products like chicken and steak provide the right amino acids to build proteins in the right combinations. Plants provide all the elements, too, just not in the optimal amounts. If you’re cutting back on meat or going full-on vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to find sources of complete protein for your body. Here’s how to get more protein in your diet.
Complete protein: Pasture-raised eggs
Eggs may seem like the obvious first choice, but according to Rachel Meyer, certified personal trainer and holistic nutrition coach, the type of eggs you’re eating is a detail you can’t miss. “Pasture-raised eggs contain 6 grams of protein per egg,” she says. “They also have two times more omega-3 fatty acids and a 25 percent less saturated fat than eggs from confined chickens.” Tired of eating the same fried or scrambled eggs each day? Here are egg recipes that aren’t for breakfast.