Biggest Myth around Plant-Based sources of Protein

Eat a Rainbow everyday!
Eat a Rainbow everyday!

Day 2 of the #plantfueledyoga Challenge!

As someone who’s been practically plant-exclusive in their diet for over two years, I’ve done quite a bit of research on getting enough protein, enough nutrients, the right combination of food to get the ‘right’ stuff my body was lacking from not eating meat. The truth? If you’re eating a well-balanced, whole food diet, limiting the salt, sugar and processed food, you’re getting enough nutrients!

The Myth: You need to combine certain foods with other foods to get a complete protein

The Reality: If you’re eating a well-balanced meal, incorporating leafy greens, amino acids, vitamin-dense food, your body will get enough protein.

Its easy for a plant-based diet to meet recommendations for protein, as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein combining is not necessary; it is more important to eat a varied diet throughout the day. Although there is somewhat less protein in a vegetarian diet than an omnivore’s diet, this is actually an advantage. Excess protein has been linked to kidney stones, osteoporosis, and possibly heart disease and some cancers. A diet focused on beans, whole grains, and vegetables contains adequate amounts of protein without the “overdose” most meat-eaters get.

The myth that we need to combine certain foods to get a “complete” protein started with a book whose intention was to inspire a plant-based diet. The premise of Diet For A Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe (1971) was that we could feed a hungry world by feeding everyone a plant-based diet. She popularized the idea of “complementary proteins” with the good intention of making sure people delved into plant-based eating healthfully. Her recommendations were based on the fact that amino acids make up protein, and that the body can only produce some amino acids. The other (called “essential” amino acids) must come from food. Plant proteins have all of the essential amino acids, and of course, certain plants contain different amino acids in different concentrations. From this, the idea that we have to consume all of the various essential amino acids to get a “complete protein” was perpetuated. We’ve known for many, many years that this is not necessary, yet the myth persists, and this idea is (unfortunately) still taught in high level nutrition education. As long as we are eating a variety of foods throughout the day, our smart bodies know how to assimilate the amino acids we need.


Here’s a great article on protein and the plant-based diet, geared specifically toward athletes:


Eat a rainbow everyday and your body will shine on!


Your Strength Yoga Challenge: Boat Pose Series

Come to a seated position. Lean back about 45 degrees, bend and raise your knees off the ground. Raise and lower your torso into your knees in a half way crunch. Repeat 10 times.

Lay on your back and bring your legs to a 90 degree angle (legs up the wall) – if you’re having any back problems, put your hands under your lower back.

Lower your legs to 45 degrees, pause and breathe for 5 breathes. Lower down almost all the way to the floor and breathe for 5 breathes. Raise them up to 45 degrees, breathe 5 breathes.

Take your legs up the wall and repeat this series.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s