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Complete Proteins – The Main Muscle Building Ingredient

  Aug 27th, 2012

Complete Proteins - Muscle Building NutritionFifteen years ago I knew a teenaged boy who’d just embarked on puberty. He had arms that looked like twigs and a set of flag pole legs to match.


His male peers made fun of his lanky appearance and he wished the girls paid him attention enough to even think to make fun of him.


You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but this frail young man spent much of his spare time after school pumping out barbell curls, blasting his abs with hundreds of situps, and bench pressing until his chest muscles were screaming at him to stop.


He was motivated.


Motivated by the churning desire to be accepted by others. Motivated by the prospect of a coming day when an attractive young lady might actually entertain the notion of investing her time in getting to know him a little better. Motivated, perhaps more than anything, by the desire of being comfortable in his own skin.


The motivation kept him going for a few years. He steadfastly lifted weights, but he was never satisfied with the snail-paced progress he made.


He worked out hard, but his nutrition was lacking. He knew that protein was important for muscle growth and he was eating 200g of protein per day from a variety of sources: rice, peanuts, peanut butter, pasta, cheese, protein shakes, milk and beans.


Surely his nutrition had nothing to do with his lagging muscle gains, right? Wrong!


I promise we’ll get back to this in a moment, but first let’s see what the young man is up to today.


Fast Forward 15 Years

Complete Proteins - 15 Years Later

As you might have guessed, the young man described in the story is me as a teenager and dealing with the seeming lack of acceptance by others was a tough thing for me, as it is for most during adolescence.


Nowadays I could care less what others think of me.


I live a principled life with clear goals and a vision of the things I want to accomplish (and how I plan to accomplish them). If someone doesn’t accept me because of (or despite of) these ideals I simply don’t have the time or energy to waste on worrying about it.


Besides, that would only serve to be counter-productive.


I instead choose to use my time investing in my family and adding value to the lives of those who appreciate who I am and what I’m about.


I not only eventually got over my complex of needing to be accepted by others, but I’ve also since figured out what was plaguing my ability to build muscle as a skinny hardgainer teenaged boy.


Protein: Quality Vs. Quantity

I was eating lots of protein. There’s no denying that.


In fact, two hundred grams of protein per day is what I usually eat today while pushing two hundred pounds. It wasn’t the quantity of protein in my diet that precluded me from gaining muscle – it was the quality of protein in my diet.


Perhaps if I had applied the same standards with my women as I was applying with my protein I might have actually pulled a date or two my freshman year of high school. 🙂


After getting more serious about the aspect of nutrition, and it’s role in building muscle and shedding body fat, I learned the missing ingredient that was responsible for my muscle building woes: amino acids.


The body is essentially made up of various combinations of proteins, which are comprised of an almost infinite number of amino acid permutations.


Different proteins require different amino acid combinations to serve their intended purpose and muscle tissue requires a specific amino acid profile to be created.


The body makes it fairly simple for us to give it the nutrition it needs to build new muscle, but it takes a certain amount of knowledge and discipline to follow it through.


I’m going to give you the knowledge. The discipline is on you.


I said the body makes it easy on us to build muscle. I mean this purely from a nutritional standpoint. Training for continual muscle gains is hard work and is a different story altogether.


Let me clarify what I meant…


Essential Amino Acids and Complete Proteins

The body produces all of the amino acids it needs to build muscle except for a select few and it’s up to us to supply our body with these select amino acids if we want to build muscle.


The select amino acids I’m referring to are those commonly known as the essential amino acids.


Proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids can be used by your body to build new muscle tissue.


Proteins that are lacking in any of the essential amino acids cannot. At least not without being combined with other specific protein sources. And even then a large percentage of those combined proteins will go unused.


The most efficient way to feed the body for muscle growth is through a diet that’s rich in proteins that include all of the essential amino acids. These proteins are commonly referred to as complete proteins, which is how I will refer to them from here on out.


I trust that I’ve piqued your interest and that you’re now curious about what proteins qualify as being complete proteins. The answer is actually extremely simple…


Any food that is considered animal flesh, or is produced by an animal (directly or indirectly), is a source of complete protein: fish, shrimp, chicken, meat, pork, whey, milk, cheese, and eggs.

Complete Protein Muscle Building Foods


There are a few outliers (like quinoa), but the list above covers 95% of complete proteins and should make up the majority of the proteins you eat each day.


In other words, if it isn’t encompassed in the items listed above, it probably isn’t a source of complete protein.


As a general rule, if you’re wanting to add muscle to your frame you should be eating at least one gram of complete protein for every pound of body weight you have.


This can seem like a lot if you’re not used to eating so much in the way of complete proteins.


If this describes you, having a whey protein supplement on hand is a quick and efficient way to quickly consume forty or fifty grams of complete protein in a matter of a minute or two.


Muscle Building is No Longer a Problem

Once I learned this truth surrounding complete proteins, and started being intentional about integrating them into my diet in adequate quantities, my muscle gains followed like night follows day.


It’s too bad that it wasn’t until after college before I finally figured out this simple yet powerful truth that has since allowed me to pack on pounds and pounds of new muscle.


It seems like just yesterday I was that skinny, awkward young man trying to find his way in life. It’s crazy how things turn out.


My life today is but a faint reflection of what it was back then and I can only thank the Lord for the man that I’ve become.


Although, it wasn’t easy along the way and I still have my share of struggles. But at least now I have a muscular physique, an indifference towards worrying about gaining the acceptance of others, and plenty of female attention from my beautiful, loving wife.


With our third baby in four years being born next month it’s obvious I now have a different problem… Figuring out how to get my wife to keep her hands off of me. 😉



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