Protein is a macronutrient that must be balanced with other nutrients to prevent muscle loss and gain. One of the most important sources of protein is animal protein. But there are many plant-based proteins, too.

Which Type of Protein to Get?

There are three types of protein: complete protein, incomplete protein, and non-protein. Complete proteins have all nine essential amino acids in them; these include whey, eggs, and milk. Incomplete proteins have at least one of the essential amino acids missing; these include soy and meat derived proteins. Non-protein ingredients are often referred to as “plant-based.”

Complete Protein

Complete proteins should be eaten in combination with other foods containing complete proteins; they also provide a good source of energy for athletes who need more calories than carbohydrates can provide. Milk, eggs, wheat breads, and meat are examples of foods made with complete proteins.

Incomplete Protein

Incomplete proteins should be done so through diet alone; no combination food sources exist for these types of protein that contain the full complement of amino acids necessary for growth or repair of muscle tissue.