Worried whether your protein is coming from the right sources? Read on.


Something awesome is happening in the world of macronutrients, specifically protein—which is important for athletes who want to improve their performance.

Let’s back up a second: In the 1980s and ’90s, nutrition researchers labeled anything that didn’t once have hooves, feet, or fins as an “incomplete” protein that didn’t have high levels of the essential amino acids you’d find in the so-called “complete” protein from meat and fish sources.

These were your beans and your grains and your favorite legumes, and dietitians were all but certain they didn’t do much in the way of muscle building or maintenance.

But now, much like the thinking on eggs, coffee, and George Clooney as a good Batman, that thinking has been thoroughly debunked.

The latest dietary science shows that these incomplete proteins actually do a pretty good job of helping you build and maintain muscle.

Researchers now understand that your body can pull amino acids from its reserves to make incomplete protein complete. It’s the total amount of protein you eat over a day, not the specific type of protein you eat, that matters.

Research has repeatedly shown that consuming about 30 grams of protein at mealtime can induce both satisfaction and satiety. (Bonus: The same amount is beneficial for muscle growth and maintenance.)

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Peanut Butter Sandwich

New science says plant proteins can not only help build muscle, but also drop your blood pressure and reduce your disease risk. About 52 percent of Americans have made changes to their diet within the past three years to include more plant-based foods and beverages, according to a study late last year by the research firm Innova Market Insights.

So do your diet a favor: Start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your every meal. Then, after a month, assess how you feel. Have more energy? Weigh less? Putting on some muscle?

If so, then maybe, just maybe, you’re becoming more complete, too.

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