“Complete Protein” Nutritionists and Vegan Bodybuilders I need your help.

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complete proteins and bodybuildi

I was shocked to find a complete lack of quality information when it comes to getting protein for muscle building from plant sources. I had just assumed it was there but I hadn’t been able to find it but it appears everyone is just parroting the same things. Many trite phrases get repeated over and over without anyone thinking critically about them, not even the vegan bodybuilding websites I have seen – “beans and rice make a complete protein”, etc.

People keep asking me again and again for inexpensive, healthy, high protein meals and inexpensive means no meat. My goal is to come up with specific recipes containing grains, legumes, and nuts that are not only low in cost but optimal for building muscle.

I need help getting the below information:

  1. I am an engineer so I always start by looking at the data, but as astounding as this seems I cant find any = anywhere on the web.  Please give me a URL!  I want to see tables of data on each legume, grain, nut, as well as meats showing how many mg per gram they have of each of the eleven essential amino acids. If this is not available on the web, please tell me what textbook I need to buy.  I know the basics, I know quinoa and soy have all the essentials AAs but not in the right quantities.  I know that grains are often deficient in lysine and tryptophan.   What I want to do is put all this data into a database and then see if I can discover a formulation or plant products that when combined precisely mimics the amino acid profile of eggs, chicken, milk, or fish as closely as possible.  This is definitely the engineering approach to cooking!
  2. “Complete protein”.  I have always heard the complete protein thing brought up like it was written on stone tablets and handed down from the top of a mountain but to me, it seems like a myth.  From an engineering perspective it makes no sense.  I get that there are essential amino acids.  There are lots of things the body needs every day to keep its complex biological machinery operating properly.  The part that makes no sense to me at all is the assertion that a “complete protein”  must contain them in correct proportions.   In my non-medical mind, once the protein source is digested, it is broken down into its component amino acids. That pool of amino acids can then be used for muscle building or whatever as long as their is always their is a sufficient source of all the amino acids present.  Again, to my simple engineering mind, its like a car factory.  Complete, high quality cars pop out of the factory as long as each of the 4856 parts on its partslist was available at the precise instant is was required on the assembly line.  In essence, what the “complete protein” people seem to be saying is that when you have too much of any one essential amino acid, it acts as a poison which inhibits muscle building.  Where is the research which shows this?
Essential Amino Acid mg/g of Protein
Tryptophan 7
Threonine 27
Isoleucine 25
Leucine 55
Lysine 51
Methionine+Cystine 25
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine 47
Valine 32
Histidine 18

Why Are Winners of Vegan Bodybuilding Contests Unimpressive?

By the way, don’t get the wrong idea. I am not saying that vegan bodybuilders are at no disadvantage when it comes to adding muscle because to me, that is crystal clear. All you need to do is look at the winners of vegan bodybuilding contests to see that their physiques are no where near as muscular as those found in natural (but not vegan) contests. I know there is something about the nutrition of vegans that inhibits their ability to add muscle, its just not clear to me what it is. Is it as simple as the fact that they cant consume enough grams protein per pound bodyweight without becoming fat? Is it just the lack of a few essential amino acids that are difficult for plant eaters to get? Or perhaps, there is really something about our bodies that require amino acids in precise ratios. Honestly, 1 and 2 seem more likely to me.

If you are confused about the difference between vegan and vegetarian, please read this.


Edit: 4/8/2013 1:06pm Eastern

Complete Protein Combiner Software

With the help that people here and on Facebook have provided I now have written the spec for my version 1.0 complete protein mixing software!!!

1) Input grams protein desired

2) Choose primary protein source

soybeans
black beans
pinto beans
garbonzo beans
peas
lentils
hemp
quinoa

3) Software finds the proper combination of complimantary foods listed below from the below list to match the “complete protein” profile as closely as possible

brazil nuts
peanuts
almonds
pumkin seed
flax
wheat
corn
brown rice
spirulina
oats
goji berries

4) Sofware calculates optimal ratio of products to maximize protein quality and to resemble the amino acid profile of the complete protein as closely as possible. Gives precise weight (uncooked) of each component to maximize protein quality so you can incorporate it into recipies.

If my complete protein combiner tool is well received, I will add additional foods and expand the functionality. The thing that excites me the most is that this tool will take protein combining out of the dark ages. Everyone has heard that “mixing beans and rice makes a complete protein”, but what ratio of beans to rice? What other combinations work? Once mixed, how does the protein quality compare to that of chicken, fish, eggs, or the ideal complete protein? My new software will answer all these questions!!!!!

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