What Is the Difference Between Complete Proteins and Incomplete Proteins 

Proteins are the fundamental components of all living things & play several critical roles in maintaining life. However, did you realize that not all proteins are equally nutritious? Proteins can be categorized into two main types- complete proteins & incomplete proteins. Both have different characteristics that affect our overall health.

Let's explore the intriguing world of proteins about complete vs. incomplete proteins & its sources and how to optimize protein consumption for a balanced & healthy diet that supports your health & fitness goals.

What is Complete Proteins?

Complete vs. Incomplete Proteins


Complete proteins or whole proteins comprise all nine essential amino acids, which the body cannot produce on its own. Each amino acid has a unique role in the body as a building block of proteins. The nine essential amino acids are histidine (His), threonine (Thr), tryptophan (Trp), lysine (Lys), methionine (Met), isoleucine (Ile), leucine (Leu), phenylalanine (Phe), & valine (Val). These amino acids play essential bodily roles & must be obtained from the diet.

Direct Sources of Complete Proteins:

Typically, animal-based diets contain complete proteins. There are several direct sources of complete proteins:

  1. Fish: Fish like salmon, tuna, cod, & others are not only a great source of protein but also heart- & brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck, & other varieties of poultry are excellent sources of complete proteins, low in cholesterol, & highly versatile in cooking.
  3. Eggs: Eggs are an excellent dietary source of complete proteins & essential vitamins & minerals such as vitamin B12 & choline.
  4. Dairy Products: Milk, yogurt, cheese, & other dairy products offer a complete protein source as well as calcium for healthy bones.
  5. Pork & Beef: Red meats such as beef & pork are complete proteins, but they should be consumed in moderation due to their high saturated fat content.
  6. Soy products: Soy products such as tofu & edamame are excellent plant-based sources of complete proteins, making them appropriate for vegetarians & vegans. Try Sudo's Vegan chicken momos (12g protein per 100g serving) & veg seekh kebab (16g protein per 100g serving), made of textured soy protein. 

Check This: High Protein Indian Breakfasts

What are Incomplete Proteins?

Complete vs. Incomplete Proteins

Incomplete proteins lack one or more essential amino acids. They may still provide nutrients but cannot fulfill the body's protein demands like complete proteins.

Dietary Sources of Incomplete Proteins:

Typically, plant-based diets contain incomplete proteins. Examples of incomplete protein sources include the following.

  1. Nuts: Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, & others are rich in protein, healthy fats, & fiber, but they may not contain all essential amino acids.
  2. Seeds: Sunflower, chia, pumpkin, & flaxseeds are nutrient-dense, but their amino acid profile may not be complete.
  3. Whole Grains: Protein-rich whole cereals such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, quinoa, & oats may not contain all essential amino acids.
  4. Legumes: Lentils, & various legumes such as black beans & kidney beans are excellent plant-based protein sources, but they may be deficient in certain amino acids.

Also Check This: Detailed Guide on Vegan Proteins 

Amino Acid Profile: Complete vs. Incomplete Proteins 

Let's look at a sample table to see the difference between complete & incomplete proteins in terms of their nutritional value:

Protein Source

Serving Size

Protein Content (per serving)

Essential Amino Acids Present

Chicken (boneless)

4 ounces (113 grams)

30 grams

All nine essential amino acids

Pork (boneless)

4 ounces (85 grams)

29 grams

All nine essential amino acids


4 ounces (85 grams)

28 grams

All nine essential amino acids

Beans (cooked)

1/2 cup (179 grams)

14 grams

Lacks Methionine


1/2 cup (73 grams)

17 grams

Lacks Methionine & Tryptophan

Soy Bean

1/2 cup (93 grams)

14 grams

All nine essential amino acids

Soy Milk

1 cup (240 ml)

8 grams

Lacks Methionine


1/2 cup (126 grams)

10 grams

Lacks Methionine

White Rice (cooked)

1 cup (158 grams)

4 grams

Lacks Lysine

Wheat Toast

1 slice (25 grams)

2 grams

Lacks Lysine

White Toast

1 slice (25 grams)

2 grams

Lacks Lysine & Isoleucine

Please note that the essential amino acids present in each protein source can vary based on the specific type and preparation of the food.

What Kinds of Proteins Should You Eat?

A balanced diet must consist of both complete & incomplete proteins. 

Animal-based food eaters may get a complete amino acid profile from a diet that includes fish, poultry, eggs, & dairy. 

Combining various plant-based protein sources is necessary for vegetarians & vegans to attain a diverse amino acid profile. Combining legumes with whole cereals or almonds with seeds makes it possible to create complementary amino acid combinations & boost the nutritional value of meals.

Check This: Top Biotin Rich Vegeterian Foods

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

The recommended protein intake varies depending on age, gender, level of physical activity, & overall health goals. 

Daily protein intakes of roughly 0.36 grams per pound of body weight are recommended as an adequate amount for most people. Nonetheless, athletes & older individuals may need a higher protein intake to support muscle health, tissue repair, & overall health.

The body can only receive a certain amount of protein at one time, so it's important to distribute your protein intake throughout the day. Protein utilization & muscle protein synthesis can be optimized by spacing out protein-rich meals & refreshments.

Also Check This: Top Indian Vegan Bodybuilders


Understanding complete & incomplete proteins may help you adopt a balanced diet & get all the nutrients your body needs. Optimal health requires a balanced diet, including animal & plant-based protein sources. Whether you choose complete proteins from animals or complementary proteins from plants, a broad & nutrient-rich diet will improve your health.

If you're looking for delicious vegan meat substitutes, check-out Sudo food, a rising star in protein-packed plant-based food. So, why wait? Have some Sudo Foods & adopt a healthy, caring way of life!

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