What is a Complete Protein Powder?

 

A lady called before Christmas and asked if MyoPures’ Pea Protein Isolate was a ‘complete’ protein. Fair enough question.

However, she went on to say she’d called another supplier and asked the same question. They told her, no, it was not a complete protein because it only had 86% protein. What? Wrong answer, not even close.

A complete protein powder (or whole protein) is one that contains an adequate amount of all nine essential amino acids. The table below shows the Institute of Medicines Food and Nutrition Board recommendations and compares that to a Whey Protein Concentrate, Pea Protein Isolate and Rice Protein Concentrate.

Essential
Amino
Acids
Recommended
mg/g protein
Whey
Protein
Concentrate
Pea
Protein
Isolate
Rice
Protein
Concentrate
Tryptophan

7

19

10

9

Threonine

27

69

39

37

Isoleucine25

61

47

43

Leucine55

104

87

85

Lysine51

91

77

36

Methionine
+Cystine
25

45

33

54

Phenylalanine
+Tyrosine
47

60

95

108

Valine32

59

52

61

Histidine18

18

27

24

It’s quite clear that both pea protein powder and rice protein powder meet this definition of complete proteins.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also publishes the minimum daily quantities for essential amino acids.

Essential
Amino
Acids
Milligrams
per day
per kg bodyweight
Recommended Total
Milligrams
For a 70 kg Adult
Tryptophan

4

280

Threonine

15

1050

Isoleucine

20

1400

Leucine

39

2730

Lysine

30

2100

Methionine+Cystine

15

1050

Phenylalanine+Tyrosine

25

1750

Valine

26

1820

Histidine

10

700

A large baked potato only has 68% of the recommended leucine but if a 70kg adult gets 10 of these into them they have can still meet their daily requirement (I don’t recommend you try it).

However, if you do the math, a heaped scoop of whey protein concentrate and pea protein isolate meet these requirements in on hit. 2 scoops of rice would also do it.

It’s important to remember that these are daily targets for essential amino acids do not need to come from a single food or a single meal. If you eat a good variety of food in a day, complete protein is not something you need to worry about.

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