Article Series

  1. Combining proteins? Is it useful?
  2. PDCAAS Method
  3. Complete Proteins

Combining proteins? Is it useful?

Combining proteins? Is it useful?
Table Of Contents
  1. Theory and Practice
  2. Protein Quality
  3. Conclusion

It is often said on the internet that the clever combination of proteins can improve the amino acid profile and biological value of a meal. Let's investigate if this is true!

Proteins are known to be composed of amino acids. Plant-based foods contain all the essential amino acids, but the concentrations of these amino acids vary widely among different foods. Many plant-based foods lack one or more essential amino acids (limiting amino acids), which makes it difficult to meet the human body's amino acid needs with a single food. This is why the terms "complete" and "incomplete" proteins are often used.

Theory and Practice

In theory and practice, various plants and seeds can be combined in vegan fitness nutrition to make it as effective and balanced as possible. According to popular belief, combining these foods can improve the production of body proteins.

However, it is not necessary to combine different plant-based foods based on their amino acid profile. The claim made by Frances Moore Lappé that foods must be combined in a meal to achieve a higher protein quality was refuted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 1988 and deemed unnecessary 1 2. If certain essential amino acids are missing for the formation of body proteins, the existing free amino acids in the body are stored (amino acid pool) 3. When the required amino acids are added with the next meal, the amino acids are withdrawn from the amino acid pool and metabolized into proteins.

Nonetheless, it doesn't hurt to combine certain foods because they simply taste good together:

  • Rice or quinoa with beans, lentils or tofu
  • Potatoes and spinach with almonds
  • Corn and beans

Protein Quality

In addition to protein-rich foods (protein foods list), the quality of proteins is crucial especially for athletes. It depends on the composition of amino acids contained in plant-based foods (called amino acid sequence or amino acid profile).

There are several ways to determine the protein quality of foods:

Find out about high-quality plant-based protein sources here.


An balanced vegan diet can easily meet the requirements for all amino acids. The main part of the diet should consist of fresh, unprocessed foods. Combining and consuming various foods with different amino acid sequences is not necessary. It is important to consume all essential amino acids throughout the day.