Individual or isolated plant based proteins are poorly suited for human use as relied upon by many picky or uneducated vegans or vegetarians. Most lack one or more of the essential amino acids, or simply contain so little of one of them that it is as if the amino acid were absent. Hemp protein is a good example of this. It is a wonderful food, which should be included in your diet, but don’t rely on it as a primary protein source.
We have also previously posted about soy protein and how its amino acid profile is unbalanced for human needs. It also comes with other imbalances such as anti-nutrients, enzyme inhibitors, clot-promoting substances, goitrogens, and phytates. This obviously makes soy a poor choice as a single source or daily use protein either.
The best plant based proteins
Yellow pea, alfalfa, spirulina, and rice, rank at the top. As stand alone sources these are much better balanced and come close to meeting human needs.
Now let’s take this a step further – eating a variety of plant based foods, whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, or carnivore, ensures you get all of the required nutrients needed to thrive. No matter what your lifestyle, if there is a reason you can’t or are not getting a constant and diverse variety of plant based foods, you can look to supplementation.
The same holds true for protein – different combinations, and including a wide variety, will give you the best balance. So when you are purchasing a plant based protein, look for one that combines not only the ones mentioned above, but could also include sources like cranberry, amaranth, and chlorella.
If you are serious about muscle health, or are a strict vegan, you also want to make sure the product includes BCAA (branch chain amino acids) and/or the breakdown or addition of the amino acids L-Lysine, L-Threonine, L-Valine, and L-Methionine.
As science evolves and we learn about the ratio of amino acids of muscle tissue and the importance of alkaline foods for repair, recovery, and optimal health, getting your protein from as many plant based sources as possible makes sense.