Proteins are an integral part of our body. 20% of our body is made up of protein but unfortunately, our bodies cannot store the protein hence we have to source it from the diet.
Proteins help us with functional & structural support along with building and repairing tissues. They are the building blocks for our bones, blood, skin, and muscles. Each protein source varies in amino acid composition, which is the major difference between animal and plant-based sources of protein.
What's the difference between Animal and Plant Protein?
1. Amino Acid Profile
All our protein is broken down to amino acids and these are used for the metabolic process in the body.
Now the difference between the sources comes down to the amino acid types they contain.
Animal proteins contain a good balance of all the required amino acids whereas plant proteins lack some of the key amino acids like tryptophan, lysine, methionine, and isoleucine.
2. Complete proteins - Animal vs plant
Complete proteins are proteins that have all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own.
Animal protein like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy are the highest quality of protein sources as they are complete proteins.
However, plant proteins lack one or more amino acids and hence it takes a combination of different plant protein sources to help make it complete.
Advantages of switching to plant-based proteins
✓ Plant-based eating patterns followed closely have been linked to reducing heart disease and hypertension.
✓ Nutrients found in fruits and vegetables have been found to reduce inflammation.
✓ Plant-based diets have been shown to not only protect Type 2 diabetics from the kidney disease, they may develop but also help in remission of Type 2 diabetes itself.
✓ Mortality rates have been shown to be lower for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease when on plant-based diets.
✓ Nuts, soy, and fiber have shown to lower the bad cholesterol.
✓ Vegetarian and vegan diets have shown to promote a healthy mix of beneficial bacteria which in turn promotes good gut and overall health.
✓Along with all this it also improves athletic performance, reduces arthritis pain, and improves cognitive abilities.
Hence switching to plant protein can bring a lot more benefits to your lifestyle.
How can we make this switch from Animal to Plant Protein?
Substitute, don’t eliminate.
Have one day in a week where you go meatless.
Cut out red meat to help improve your cardiovascular functions.
When eating out check the menu before you reach so that you can make a better choice.
Stick to similar flavors and preparation styles that you use for making non-vegetarian foods for example similar masalas.
Set up a few recipes for your plant-based dishes
To summarize, non-vegetarians need to include more plant-based products and need not completely switch over to being vegan but need to manage the intake of meat to ensure good heart health whereas for vegetarians or vegans for a complete profile we need to have a good mix of greens, seeds, rice, pulses, lentils, grains, etc.
Irrespective of what you eat, balance is the key. Make sure to have a diet that suffices the needs of your body.
About the Author
Swetha Ashok is the founder of TheGutGuru.
She is trained and certified professional in the field of Biochemistry, microbiology and nutrition.
The GutGuru focuses on:
- Working on your overall lifestyle to help you sustain whatever your end goal is.
- Building better relationships with food and yourself.
- Fitting into your lifestyles to make a healthy transition easy and permanent
All their programs, focus not just on diet, but also on creating the right habits to sustain it in the long term.