Our bodies require nine essential amino acids to function properly. Amino acids are the building blocks that make up the macronutrient, protein. In order to form a complete protein, a food must contain all nine essential amino acids.
Complete protein sources are typically supplied by animal products with the exception of plant-based complete protein sources like quinoa, soy, chia seeds, hemp and buckwheat. Other plant-based sources of protein are low in certain amino acids, so vegetarians and vegans should eat a wide variety of foods to ensure that they are getting all the amino acids that their bodies need.
When it comes to understanding complete proteins and how to consume them, research varies. Some studies suggest that the best meals include all amino acids, other say we don’t need to worry much about this. Eating a variety of protein sources (i.e. not just tofu at breakfast, lunch and dinner) will ensure our bodies get the protein needed to thrive.
Food combinations for complete protein
It might sound complicated, but we promise that it’s not. Our tip: Focus on variety, not on tracking amino acids.
During the day, you probably consume food combinations that create complete proteins without much thought. Simple combinations of legumes and grains like beans with rice, hummus with pita and peanut butter with bread provide a meal that is high in all essential amino acids your body needs to function optimally.
8fit vegan meal plans
Getting adequate amounts of protein is essential for the maintenance of muscle, skin, organ tissues, hair, and nails. It also helps create enzymes that regulate our metabolism, hormone production and the growth and repair of cells.
Keep in mind that plant-based foods are typically lower in protein, so the amount you consume should be higher compared to an animal-based protein. When you use the 8fit app for meal planning, you don’t need to worry about whether or not you are getting enough protein. Our nutritionists do that work for you by creating well-balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. Each meal includes the ingredient quantities needed to help you reach your goal.
For those looking to learn how to eat a well-balanced vegan diet, 8fit nutritionists created 1 and 2-week meal plans. Download the meal plans below and create them in your 8fit app.
The 8fit app has a lot of vegan-friendly recipes to choose from like curried tofu, spinach dhal, roasted granola and strawberry peanut butter quesadillas. See even more vegan options by including dairy in your preferences, then swap for vegan dairy alternatives when cooking.
When creating a vegan plan plan, or any meal plan, keep these pointers in mind:
- Most of the vegetables can be replaced with other vegetables. You can always add extra to your plate because they are low in calories. Just be careful with the starchy ones (potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, beets, parsnip, peas, corn) which are higher in calories.
- Fresh fruits can also be interchanged. Stock up on your favorite seasonal produce or purchase the same fruit in bulk and use it for all of your meals.
- You can swap out nuts, seeds and peanuts one for one. Choose your favorite, just make sure they are unsalted!
- Make dishes more tasty by adding herbs, spices and other flavor-adds (vinegar, mustard, lime, lemon, hot sauce).
- Make mornings easier by preparing breakfast in advance. Multiply ingredients by 4 if you would like it for breakfast for the next 4 days. Four is the magic number: We recommend keeping prepared meals in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Multiply dinner ingredients by 2, then take half of the meal for your lunch the next day.