Die Bedeutung der essentiellen Aminosäuren für Veganer

The importance of essential amino acids for vegans

Anyone who follows a vegan diet will sooner or later be confronted with the topic of amino acids and amino acid patterns. The amino acids proteins are the building blocks in our organism, which in turn are considered the basic building materials of the human body and important macronutrients.

Convinced advocates of a vegan diet are of the opinion that they can get enough protein and protein building blocks with a plant-based diet.

Critics of a purely plant-based diet, on the other hand, argue that essential amino acids in plant-based foods are not present in sufficient quantities in the right combination.

Who is right here and what importance do the essential amino acids have in veganism ?

Maybe you would like to eat vegan in the future or have already adopted the vegan diet . Vegetarians with different dietary focuses can also benefit from the information in this article.

Find out more about amino acids, amino acid patterns and protein below.

Protein - macronutrient and cell building material

Along with carbohydrates and fats, proteins are macronutrients. They are contained in different proportions in different foods.

We particularly associate animal foods with a high protein content.

Many nutritionists emphasize the importance of proteins for a healthy diet. Others are more critical of what they see as the excessive consumption of animal proteins in the Western diet .

They link animal protein with various diseases of civilization, including colon cancer.

From this point of view, people should eat a particularly healthy diet by avoiding animal foods and therefore also animal proteins.

Gesund ernähren als Veganer

Our needs

A protein level of approximately 10% is considered a characteristic of a balanced diet. The recommendations for the amount of protein per kilogram of body weight vary somewhat.

Some nutritionists and experts consider 0.4-0.6 g/kilogram daily to be sufficient, while the German Nutrition Society, for example, recommends 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

To further illustrate these quantities, we relate different body weights:

  • With a body weight of around 60 kg, the German Nutrition Society would recommend consuming 48 g of protein per day.
  • For a body weight of 80 kg, the recommendation was 64 g of protein per day.

Amino acids and amino acid patterns - what can you imagine by them?

Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins. We can therefore also speak of protein or protein building blocks. This equation applies to 20 representatives of this chemical group, which consists of several hundred different substances.

There are 20 proteinogenic amino acids . They can form proteins and cell building blocks themselves. Here we differentiate between essential and semi-essential protein building blocks.

These building blocks cannot be produced in essential form by our organism itself. On the other hand, we have to get semi-essential amino acids through food in certain phases of life, while in others we can produce them independently. A third group of protein building blocks is formed by the body itself from other substances.

The ratio of essential building blocks to other building blocks must always be balanced.

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The American scientist Prof. Luca-Moretti is considered the discoverer of the so-called amino acid pattern . After intensive research in the field of proteins, he assigns each living being a certain pattern of very specific amino acids.

He refers to this pattern in English as the " Master Amino Acid Pattern " (MAP).

According to Luca-Moretti, they form the essential building blocks of protein

  • isoleucine,
  • leucine,
  • lysine,
  • methionine,
  • phenylalanine,
  • threonine,
  • Tryptophan
  • and valine

the human MAP. According to his research work, over 99% of these protein building blocks can be converted directly into proteins and cell substance for the human organism.

To do this, however, they must be present at the same time and in certain proportions to each other.

Is a plant-based diet an incomplete diet?

Regardless of the theory of the amino acid pattern, many nutritionists and some doctors believe that supplying the human organism with high-quality proteins is very important.

Proteins are not only considered a building material for all human tissue, but also have other important physiological functions - including in energy metabolism and the entire human metabolism.

Proteins have recently become more of a focus, especially when it comes to losing weight and building muscle , as well as an ideal diet. Keywords here are low-carb and protein diets.

Carbohydrates no longer have a good reputation, especially those that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels.

Many scientists now attribute the rapid spread of obesity and overweight to an excessive proportion of low-quality carbohydrates in modern Western dietary habits .

In contrast, there is the view of many people who follow a plant-based lifestyle and diet: They consider plant-based diets, which inherently contain a lot of carbohydrates, to be particularly healthy.

The proponents of a balanced mixed diet do not see the protein supply with a plant-based diet as guaranteed.

They attribute this to the fact that the amino acid pattern in plant-based foods is not balanced and ideal. Every plant-based food is missing one or two essential amino acids, or some amino acids are present in too small quantities.

For them, every single, essential amino acid counts. It is precisely the mixture of plant and animal protein sources that would provide us with the optimal supply.

Amino acids and MAP - what does this discussion have to do with it?

As a rule, plant foods do not contain the complete amino acid pattern with the 8 essential protein building blocks mentioned compared to animal foods.

Perhaps you have also heard that vegetable proteins are said to be inferior to animal proteins in terms of their usability?

Critics of a purely plant-based diet therefore also believe that it cannot ensure the supply of high-quality protein. That's why they dismiss it as malnutrition.

Aminosäuren zur Unterstützung Ihrer Gesundheit

Does it depend on the combination of foods and the biological value?

Proponents of a purely plant-based diet are also of the opinion that the supply of high-quality proteins is important for the human body and health. They also emphasize the importance of essential protein building blocks for vegans .

The so-called biological value is a measure of the quality of protein sources. This is about how well a protein from food can be converted into the body's own protein. The MAP also has a similar weighting.

The chicken egg is said to have a biological value of 100%. The biological value is therefore intended to determine how balanced the protein intake from certain foods is.

If different protein sources are measured by their biological value and thus by the chicken egg, animal foods often perform better than plant protein sources .

It should not only be about the amino acids contained in every food, but also about the fact that animal protein is more similar to human body protein and should therefore be easier to use.

If we come back to the amino acid pattern, we already know: Many plant protein sources do not contain all 8 essential protein building blocks in sufficient quantities. Vegans are increasingly solving this challenge by combining different plant-based protein sources.

That's why they mainly include legumes such as lentils, combined with nuts, soy products and various types of grains, in order to achieve sufficient biological value.

Various yeasts and algae could also contribute to supplying the human organism with high-quality protein on a plant-based diet.

Problems with food combinations as an ideal form

If you follow a purely plant-based diet and want to ensure your protein supply, you will learn to cleverly combine different foods.

This assumes an ideal case. But is it realistic to adopt an ideal daily diet for a vegan lifestyle?

Even mixed foodists experience everyday challenges in combining their foods in accordance with modern recommendations for a healthy diet. However, it is probably easier for them to get essential protein building blocks because most animal foods contain all of the MAP.

Vegetarians who eat at least eggs and dairy products also seem to have an easier time getting high-quality protein. If animal foods are consumed, the essential protein building blocks are available to the organism at the same time as the food is consumed and are usually present in the correct proportions.

This is especially true when consuming milk and cheese.

Plant-based diets are often not ideally combined

A vegan diet seems challenging at first. Challenging because we have to put the individual foods together carefully. Although many nutritionists consider a focus on plant-based foods to be fundamentally healthy and could also benefit the environment, it is not made easy for us.

Problems can arise, especially when it comes to the fact that the MAP is mapped in the human body at the same time as food intake. Not everyone who follows a vegan diet pays close attention to their protein supply .

Plant proteins often have a less ideal composition in terms of MAP. It can even be stated that, apart from certain algae and berries, hardly any plant-based food contains all the essential protein building blocks in the right proportions at the same time. Buckwheat is said to be an exception here.

Even though vegans usually attach great importance to a healthy diet, they do not always put their food together in the ideal way. Among them there are also people who eat a poor diet based on plant-based food sources.

You primarily eat unhealthy carbohydrates and, for example, consume too much sugar. Fast food chains are no longer afraid of alternative forms of nutrition, although the focus here is definitely on balance.

Do all people who are fundamentally enthusiastic about a plant-based diet also want to get used to more exotic food ingredients such as algae or yeast? Do you like it all?

Can the supply of amino acids and protein be ensured in another way?

vegan & genus mit pflanzlichen Proteinen

A balanced vegan diet: These benefits come with additional protein building blocks

If you want to eat a balanced diet with a vegan diet, you can benefit from the additional intake of essential protein building blocks.

Most people make the decision to follow a vegan diet for a long period of time, perhaps even for the rest of their lives. It can be difficult to consistently ensure an ideal combination of foods over this long period of time.

Among other things, the availability of various plant-based foods is also important.

In addition, vegans don't just have to pay attention to their protein supply. B12 is another challenge . It performs vital tasks in the human metabolism, but is not absorbed through plant-based foods.

However, there are isolated reports that some microbes modify plant foods in such a way that B12 is absorbed with impurities when eaten. However, these findings have not yet been scientifically confirmed. That's why many vegans choose to supplement vitamin B12.

So why not think similarly about protein and protein building blocks?

Even if we don't want to follow the idea of ​​the amino acid pattern uncritically, we quickly realize how important high-quality proteins are for our organism.

This is especially true as you get older.

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Many aging processes , for example in the skin, are associated with the fact that, due to age, our organism no longer utilizes protein in the same way as our young bodies.

If proteins are the building materials for cells and body tissue, we can assume that missing proteins are behind the sagging of the skin and the formation of wrinkles. A nutritional supplement with amino acids against wrinkles can be helpful here.

Excessive consumption of animal proteins is unlikely to be a long-term solution to increased demand for high-quality protein. Red meat in particular is said to be more of a hindrance than a benefit to health if consumed in excess.

In addition, many people, and perhaps you too, would like to avoid eating meat for animal welfare reasons.

What can protein supplementation bring?

One or another amino acid in particular has other more important functions and can support our health in many ways.

For example, scientific research indicates that the amino acid lysine, an essential amino acid , can have a protective effect on various forms of herpes . This ranges from the typical cold sores to shingles.

Branched-chain amino acids

  • isoleucine,
  • Leucine and
  • Valine

(collectively “ BCAA ”) are commonly mentioned in muscle maintenance and various metabolic functions. Scientific research is not yet over here.

The three building blocks mentioned are called branched chain because they have a branched structure. They are now also used successfully in intensive care medicine and for diseases that are associated with muscle loss.

The amino acid leucine is the subject of particularly intensive further research. It could also be related to insulin metabolism.

It's not just the vegan diet that can lead to deficiencies in protein supply and, above all, in the supply of essential protein building blocks. However, avoiding animal foods can lead to a deficiency of one or another indispensable amino acid more quickly and intensively.

The research on human MAP shows that what is most important is an even and simultaneous supply of all protein building blocks.

It therefore seems to make little sense to consume one essential amino acid today and another essential amino acid tomorrow.

In this way, the organism may not be able to benefit from the possible positive effects and essential functional effects of protein.

Hautalterung durch Proteinzufuhr verlangsamen

Is a lack of certain protein building blocks noticeable?

If you only consume plant-based proteins over a longer period of time, you could develop a gradual protein deficiency.

That's why we recommend that you think intensively about your body and its needs and find your ideal combination for yourself.

Features of such a deficiency may be non-specific, so the protein issue is not considered as a cause.

Here we are talking about, for example

  • Loss of physical and mental performance
  • or accelerated aging processes on skin and hair

They may be related to a lack of essential protein building blocks. However, since both performance and aging follow an individual program for each person, many people do not suspect a protein deficiency at this point. If you consume enough protein, amino acids can have a positive effect on hair loss .

How can you prevent and protect with enough protein?

Precisely because the nutritional recommendations for a vegan diet are hotly debated and almost ideological positions are taken, vegans can slip into a state of protein deficiency almost unnoticed.

Providing protein and protein building blocks should be a priority in our diet .

The theory of MAP can show the way. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about the amino acid pattern or the supply of essential protein building blocks. It is important that our body always has sufficient amounts of these special amino acids and generally sufficient protein.

Especially in advanced age, protein could play a key role in maintaining performance and delaying aging processes.

Older vegans can particularly benefit from consuming essential amino acids, also because as we get older we tend to pay less attention to the composition of our daily diet. This can also apply to a vegan diet.

In addition, when we have certain life circumstances or illnesses, we don't necessarily focus on the daily menu.

In addition, not every vegan person is able to put together a scientifically sound and balanced diet. Personal preferences and our appetite also play a big role.

Vegan or not, food is pleasure and should taste good.

This is why many people fail when it comes to nutrition plans that are designed and put together purely on an intellectual level. But there is no need to approach the topic of food intake too academically. At least in the area of ​​protein supply.

It is even relatively easy to supply yourself with additional amino acids and thus map the MAP at any time. This makes every important amino acid available to the body.

Semi-essential and non-essential amino acids are also adequately supplied if we choose a good, balanced product as a nutritional supplement.

For further information on the topic of amino acids , please take a look at our other blog posts or find out more about one of our products .

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