Eat lentils with rice for a complete vegan protein.

Lentils aren’t a complete protein, as they lack of the essential amino acid methionine! We should eat lentils with foods containing methionine to create a complete protein!

Nutritional value

Lentils are particularly high in nutrients. Above all, lentils are high in protein and fiber. Additionally, lentils are an excellent source of iron and zinc. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide.

cooked 100g
brown rice,
cooked 100g
wheat flour
protein (g)92,739,6
carbs (g)19,525,474,5
fiber (g)7,91,613,1
iron (mg)3,30,563,7
phosphorus (mg)180102323
potassium (mg)36986394
zinc (mg)1,270,712,96
selenium (mcg)2,85,812,7
Nutritional value of lentils, rice & wheat flour.[1]

Moreover, lentils are particularly high in fiber. A serving of lentils can provide up to 64% of the Daily Value (DV).

Above all, lentils are low in calories. Cooked lentils contain only 114 calories per 100g. Actually, most beans are low in calories. Hence, they’re good for weight loss!

Furthermore, combining lentils with rice and other whole-grains is good for our health, losing weight, and building muscle mass. Prefer brown or wild rice than white rice, though. It’s much higher in protein, fiber, iron, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and many more, as compared to white rice.

Lentils aren’t a complete protein

Although beans and legumes are high in protein, they aren’t a complete protein. Proteins are made of amino acids. We have to take 9 essential amino acids from food. The human body can’t synthesize them.

Although, raw lentils are 25% protein, most lentil varieties don’t contain adequate amounts of methionine, which is an essential amino acid.[2]

So, we should combine lentils with foods high in methionine in order to eat a complete protein.

Furthermore, you should prefer red lentils. They’re richer in protein, and they’ve a better amino profile. Split red lentils are richer in essential amino acids than green lentils. Both lentil varieties don’t contain adequate amounts of methionine, though.

green lentils,
cooked g/100g
split red lentils,
cooked g/100g
Amino acid profile of lentils.

Combine lentils with rice or cereals to create a complete protein

Lentils (as most beans) are high in lysine. On the contrary, rice, wheat, and most cereals don’t contain adequate amounts of lysine. Combining lentils with rice and whole-grain bread creates a complete protein.

brown rice,
wheat bread
Amino acid profile of rice & wheat bread.[3,4]

Besides lentils, you could consume other beans, such as chickpeas and fava beans with rice or whole wheat bread to have a meal with high quality plant-based protein.

Furthermore, you could add nutrient-dense vegetable like kale to your lentil recipes. Kale is among the richest vegetables in protein. However, it lacks of lysine and leucine.

Eat foods high in methionine to create a complete protein

Certainly, even consuming rice with lentils and wheat bread won’t create a high-quality protein. None of these foods is a good source of the essential amino acid methionine.

We should combine lentils with foods high in methionine to make a complete and high-quality protein. Most people need about 10 mg of methionine per kilogram of body weight.[5] Therefore, a 70 kg person requires about 0.7 g of methionine a day.

Plant-based foods rich in methionine are pumpkin seeds (2.34 g per 100g), sesame seeds (1.6 g), Brazil nuts (1.1 g), hemp seeds (0.9 g), soy protein (0.8 g), chia seeds (0.6 g), oats (0.3 g), peanuts (0.3 g), buckwheat (0.29 g), and chickpeas (0.25 g).[6]

Practically, you better cook lentils with chia seeds, instead of rice. They’re particularly high in methionine. Also, chia seeds are a complete protein! They contain all 9 essential amino acids. Furthermore, chia seeds are among the best plant-based sources of omega-3s.

In addition, try to eat pumpkins and sesame seeds with lentils. These seeds contain high amounts of methionine! Just 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds contains 0.17 g of methionine! Pumpkins seeds are a complete protein as well.

Do lentils have enough protein to built muscle mass?

Lentils are particularly high in lysine. Lysine is also an essential amino acid. Hence, lysine is necessary for muscle growth and good metabolism. We need about 30 mg of lysine per kg of body weight.[5] Hence, a 70 kg person needs about 2.1 g of lysine a day.

Lentils are an excellent source of lysine. Cooked lentils contain about 0.81 g of lysine per 100g. On the contrary, most cereals are pretty low in lysine. Therefore, eating lentils with rice, or whole-grain bread, “creates” a complete protein, promoting muscle growth and improving metabolism!

Most noteworthy, protein in lentils is easily digestible. Analytically, protein digestibility for green lentils is 87.9 and for split red lentils is 90.6. For comparison, casein which is a high-quality protein of milk has a protein digestibility of 96.59. Most plant-based proteins have a much lower protein digestibility score.

You can eat lentils even before bed. Lentils may improve sleep quality.

Foods with complete protein

First, all foods from animal sources are complete protein. But, we shouldn’t depend on animal sources for protein. Foods from animal sources are high in saturated fat and calories. Also, they lack of many vitamins, such as vitamin C. Furthermore, they’re low in antioxidants and fiber.

On the other hand, most plant-based foods aren’t a complete protein. In most cases, they lack at least 1 essential amino acid.

Luckily, there are a few plant-based foods containing complete protein. Buckwheat, barley, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, spirulina, and amaranth are plant-based foods with a complete protein!

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