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Protein is used by the body to build, repair, and maintain muscle tissue. Protein is made up of a number of amino acids, and the body cannot use the protein you ingest unless all of the necessary amino acids are present. However, the body itself can only produce some of these amino acids. The others, called the essential amino acids, have to be obtained from foods you eat.

Examples of the foods that contain what is called complete protein, that is, they provide all the amino acids necessary to produce protein, that is they provide all the amino acids necessary to produce usable proteins, are given below.

Food % Protein By Weight % Net Protein Utilized
soyabean flour 42 61
Cheese 22-36 70
Meat and Fowl 19-31 68
Fish 18-25 80
Eggs 12 94
Brown Rice 8 70
Milk 4 82

This chart tells us, for example, that an egg contains only 12% protein by weight. Yet, because of the specific amino acids present in the protein, 94% of it can be used by your body. So, there is a big difference between how much protein a food contains and how much of that protein you can actually use to build muscle.

Eggs are such a good source of quality protein that they are used as a basis of comparison in rating the protein quality of other foods, with eggs given an arbitrary value of 100.

Food Protein Raiting
Eggs 100
Fish 70
Milk 70
Beef 80
Soyabeans 47
Dry Beans 34
Peanuts 43
Whole Grain Wheat 44
Brown Rice 57
White Rice 56
White Potato 34

As you can see from this list, foods like rice, potatoes, and beans give considerably less usable protein than eggs or fish. Because these foods lack one or more of the essential amino acids, they cannot satisfy the body’s protein needs.

You can combine two or more sources of this low-quality protein (incomplete protein) to obtain high quality, complete protein.

Combine protein to build maximum muscle mass with as little body fat as possible.

Grains plus Seeds

Breads with added seed meals

Breads with sesame or sunflower seed spread

Rice with sesame seeds

Grains plus Milk Products

Cereals with milk

Pasta with milk or cheese

Bread with milk or cheese

Grains plus Legumes

Rice and beans

Legume soup with bread

Wheat bread and beans 

If you simply remember the food groups as listed above, you will be able to combine your foods correctly to maximize usable protein.