by Mike Levinson
Protein is made up of 20 amino acids, which are categorized into two types: essential and non-essential. Our bodies make 11 of these amino acids, so they are considered non-essential amino acids. The other nine amino acids are essential, because our bodies do not make them naturally. Essential amino acids come from our food.
When all nine essential amino acids appear in the same food source, they form a complete protein. Animal proteins such as those found in beef, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, milk and yogurt are complete proteins. Plant-based proteins are generally incomplete proteins, but quinoa, buckwheat and soybeans are a few examples of complete proteins from plant sources.
How much protein should my kids and I be eating?
What about vegetarians and vegans?
If you’d like to eat your complementary proteins together, a few ideas include:
- rice and beans (lentils, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, etc.)
- macaroni and cheese
- nut butter and whole wheat bread (or Ezekiel bread)
- hummus and whole wheat pita
Mike Levinson, a Calabasas resident, is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietitian who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.