By: Laura S.

I am currently training for my second marathon in my adult life, and while the aches and pains feel the same as last year, and as the mileage starts to creep up it feels like deja vu- one minor detail has changed: this year I am running the marathon as a vegetarian.

Vegetarian endurance athletes have become quite a trend in the last couple of years. Some noteworthy endurance athletes include Brendon Brazier (vegan ironman), Rich Roll (vegan ultra ironman), Robert Cheeke (vegan body builder), and Michael Arnstein (fruitarian ultra runner); just to name a few.

Giving up meat during this marathon training means I will be missing out on complete proteins and key amino acids from my diet. These amino acids are also called limiting amino acids and they are: lysine, threonine, methionine, and tryptophan. Limiting amino acids are found in the shortest supply from incomplete proteins. Incomplete proteins are those found in plant food sources and geletin.

The most frequently asked question I get asked when becoming a vegetarian involved getting enough protein. While I do not eat meat, fish, or dairy (except for yogurt) I get plenty of protein in my diet by using protein complementation.

Protein complementation is the most efficient way to get all 9 amino acids into a vegetarian’s diet. Protein complementation is when you combine two vegetable proteins (legumes and grains for an example) to get all 9 amino acids that are essential for your body. The breakdown of protein complementation goes like this:


Food Limited Amino Acid Complement
Beans Methionie Grains, nuts, seeds
Grains Lysine, threonine Legumes
Nuts/seeds Lysine Legumes
Vegetables Methionine Grains, nuts, seeds
Corn Tryptophan, lysine Legumes

By combining vegetarian protein sources you can ensure that you are getting all 9 amino acids. Protein complementation does not have to be done at the same meal. If you ate beans for lunch and then had some raw almonds for a snack later, you would be adding the methionine that you had missed out on during lunch.

A vegetarian diet, if planned correctly, can provide you with all of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids the body needs.

10 replies
  1. Dr Peter Kay
    Dr Peter Kay says:

    The need for “protein complementation” has been exposed as a myth.

    Not only do you not need to eat all essential amino acids at the same meal, the body’s own amino acid pool makes good shortfalls.

    If you eat a healthy varied diet, your body takes care of the rest.

    • Eva
      Eva says:

      Hi, I am currently studying to become a nutritional therapist and I found your response really interesting. Not only was I told about the “protein complementation” being necessary but also that it has to be eaten at the same time in correct ratio (for example 2 cups of rice for 1 cup of beans). Is this not correct, or perhaps has this recently changed? Thank you

        • Erik
          Erik says:

          Hi all!

          I’m studying nutrition too and i agree that there little to no risk of amino acid deficiency on a vegetarian diet as long as you get enough energy from it.

          However, optimizing muscle protein synthesis for people doing vigorous physical exercise, seeking to maximize performance, is a different issue. In that context protein complementation may be beneficial.

      • Steve
        Steve says:

        Usually if we’re going beyond a normal and varied diet for nutritional purposes, it’s because of efforts to build or heal muscle from exercise. A bodybuilder will find that with the minimal intake of essential amino acids, they will lose muscle because the reserves run out. It also seems to be true, though there are plenty of inexperienced scientists who will argue the point, that increased intake of quality protein generally leads to increased capacity to add lean muscle mass. Though all are agreed that there are potential dangers in going too far.

    • Jason Jackson
      Jason Jackson says:

      That may be true of the physiological body that is the theoretical subject of science, but it is false according to the body of a human person existing in the real world nowadays.

      This is an area where religious ministry is superior to medical practice. A minister realizes there is a difference between theology/dogma and pastoral care. The theory of the religion is not the same as the practice of it. Therefore, a religious minister knows to explain things in a way that correlates to real behaviors. This is why Jesus spoke in parables—such are real stories instead of theoretical constructs.

      Unfortunately, AMA doctors are brainwashed into being atheists, and so therefore view the human body as a material machine. All their advisements are based upon a depersonalized body living in theoretical model space.

      In the real world, real persons have favorite foods and economic limitations that drive what they eat. What you will notice with many veg/vegans is that they have a nasty sweet tooth. And this is on top of all the carbs they eat. They also will tend to favor some vegetables over others, so they can become at risk of nutritional deficiencies and too many anti-nutrients (e.g., oxalate and phytic acid). They will tend to skip for many days at a time that necessary food to balance their amino intake. This is why many of them are anxious or seem unsure of their sexuality.

      Sure a celebrity with money and servants can be a perfect veg/vegan, but regular people will have many challenges in practice in the real world.

      But you will never hear anything negative about veg/vegan these days anymore than you will hear the truth about the hormones effect in transexualism. These Progressive “lifestyles” are favored by the globalists in accordance with the UN Agenda. There is NO such thing as science in American and Western Europe and Australia these days.

  2. ThomasWilson
    ThomasWilson says:

    A plant-based vegetarian diet is healthier and can prevent diseases. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have a reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, colon cancer, adult-onset diabetes, osteoporosis, gout, gallstones, kidney stones, lung cancer, and breast cancer. A low fat vegetarian diet, combined with regular exercise, helps reduce blood pressure and can control, or even eliminate, non-insulin dependent diabetes.

  3. Jennifer Karches
    Jennifer Karches says:

    The belief that vegans have to combine foods to make a complete protein in order to be healthy has been shown to be totally false. It is a myth that was started in 1909 by biochemist Karl Heinrich Ritthausen…whose work was based on the erroneous assumptions of his colleague Justus von Liebig, who believed there were just a few forms of protein in existence. This myth was then picked up by Adelle Davis’ book Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit in 1954, and then again in 1971 with Frances Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet. In 1981 Lappe retracted her writings on combining plant proteins. You do not have to plan a complicated diet in order to be a healthy vegan. From research done in the 1940s Dr. William Rose proved that plant proteins are “complete” proteins. The American Dietetic Association has abandoned this combining plant proteins theory decades ago. In fact, plant proteins are shown to be healthier than animal protein as animal protein will acidify the blood (thereby our body will extract calcium from our bones to correct this acidification), plant proteins do not elevate IGF-1 levels, plant proteins do not raise cancer risk, do not contribute to obesity, heart disease or diabetes, to name a few common serious problems with animal products. Look at gorillas, bulls, cows, elephants and other large animals with a plant-based diet…and you will see it is obvious that plants provide all the necessary nutrition for optimal health for animals. Humans are animals. Here is a submission by Dr. McDougall published in the journal of the American Heart Association with a decidedly grudging response that yes plants can provide all the nutrition needed by humans.
    In fact, you can see that BROCCOLI has roughly the same essential amino acid content as a chicken egg (check out the chart at, and incredibly, per calorie broccoli has more protein than an egg! (
    For an alternative history, one that is not bullied and obfuscated by the meat and dairy industry, and that debunks many of the claimed health benefits of animal products, read a paper by Dr. McDougall: Finally, I do believe all of the FDA recommended guidelines for daily food intake must be taken with a very large grain of salt. It is well-known that the FDA has been “guided” by outside interests such as the meat and dairy industries. In fact, for more on a fascinating (and unfortunately brief and TRUTHFUL) blip in FDA history, please watch this short video on The McGovern Report, which was quickly twisted to the meat, egg and dairy industry’s benefit, and to the detriment of the American public:


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