Key Differences Between Plant and Animal-Based Protein

Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are macronutrients that provide people with their energy (measured in calories). A gram of protein contains around four calories and makes up approximately 15 to 20-percent of the human body. Protein is necessary for metabolic processes, so human bodies must make it themselves or consume it through foods.

Proteins Are Amino Acids

This macronutrient forms from amino acids. There are nearly 20 different amino acids that a person’s body uses to build protein, several of which are non-essential (12 in adults, 11 in children) as the body can produce them. The remaining are considered essential and come from animal or plant-based foods.

Protein Sources Contain Different Amino Acids

When it comes to animal and plant sources, not all proteins are the same. Animal proteins contain the essential amino acids, but many plant proteins lack particular amino acids that a person requires from their diet.

Dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, poultry are animal-based protein sources. In many ways, these proteins are similar to those found in humans. A person who eats animal-based foods receives a balanced complement of all essential amino acids.

Plant-based foods are not considered complete protein sources. Soy, for example, is used as food for people and the animals that they eat. It is a plant-based protein source, but it lacks the essential amino acid methionine.

How Can A Person’s Protein Source Effect Their Health?

The fact is that animal protein sources are complete, while plant proteins are incomplete since they are missing one or more of the essential amino acids.

Other benefits of animal protein

Nutrients accompany protein sources, including animal-based foods. That includes vitamin B12, vitamin D, DHA, Heme-iron, and zinc. Some of these nutrients come in plants but are harder to obtain in reasonable amounts.

Research indicates that consuming animal protein is linked to reduced muscle loss with age, feeling fuller, and reductions in heart-related problems (diets including fish.)

Other benefits of plant protein

Conversely, some studies indicate that processed red meats increase the chances of diabetes and heart disease. Other research is showing that plant-based foods help reduce a person’s chance of developing type II diabetes, heart disease, or gaining weight.

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