The Methionine + Lysine Complete Protein Cheat Sheet

Being a self-educated vegan, it's easy to muck things up--especially when it comes to eating the right protein when the FDA doesn't require foods to be labeled with their amino acid contents. The mere grams of protein in a meal is insufficient information to determine how much protein your body can actually absorb.

I recently ran across the concept of a complete protein on wikipedia. One of the limiting factors of the adult body being able to turn amino acids into protein depend on the ratio of 7 different amino acids. If any one of these proteins is too low, it becomes the limiting amino acid / bottleneck on your body being able to build protein. These amino acids and their proportions necessary to form a complete protein are listed below (copied from wikipedia):

Essential Amino Acid mg/g of Protein
Tryptophan 7
Threonine 27
Isoleucine 25
Leucine 55
Lysine 51
Methionine+Cystine 25
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine 47
Valine 32
Histidine 18

Complete proteins are found naturally in meats, but a plant-based diet is generally limited by their methionine and lysine proportions. Fortunately, a diet rich in rice (a good source of methionine) and beans (a good source of lysine) provides a vegan diet with a complete protein. This is why rice+beans is a common staple to many cultures around the world.

After learning this, I hopped over to and searched for a comprehensive list of foods highest in methionine and lysine.

I copied all the vegan query's response to a spreadsheet, and here's the resulting Vegan Complete Protein Cheat Sheet:

mg Methionine / 100g serving of vegan foods

Lysene concentrations in vegan foods

mg lysene / 100g serving of vegan food

mg Lysine / 100g serving of vegan foods

Methionine Concentrations in Vegan Foods

mg methionine / 100g serving of vegan foods

Other formats:

* methionine.pdf
* lysene.pdf
* Open Office spreadsheet

February 12, 2011 · Michael · 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: diet, health, vegan, vegetarian

2 Responses

  1. Do you understand the essential amino acids? - July 2, 2011

    [...] Green The Methionine + Lysine Complete Protein Cheat Sheet has some good lists of vegan sources of lysine and methionine. I second the suggestions of hemp. I find adding hemp protein powder to smoothies to be one of the easiest ways to drastically increase my protein intake as a vegan. Hemp has all of the essential amino acids, but the ratios aren't entirely ideal (tryptophan is the limiting one). There are several commercial mixtures which correct for this - most seem to contain hemp, rice, and pea protein. Russianrocket also has a point, although he put it rather abrasively. A high percentage of people don't tolerate gluten well, and I'm yet to hear of anyone who thrives on huge amounts of processed wheat in any form. Eating a bit of it won't kill you, but it's probably not wise to make it a huge part of your diet. Good luck. [...]

  2. Green » Cheap Vegan Protein Shakes - March 31, 2012

    [...] 2012-03-31: If you want a better distribution of amino acids (to form a complete protein), you might want to go with the pre-mixed Vegan Protein Optimizer Formula made from a mix of Rice, [...]

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