Foods with Essential Amino Acids

These are 9 amino acids that the body can’t produce. So it’s necessary for people to get them from food and supplements.

poultry, fish, meats, and vegetables with amino acids

Do you want to increase your daily intake of amino acids? If so then you should consider foods with essential amino acids. These foods include options like meat/fish, whole grains, and dairy. They’re high in aminos/proteins to help you get your daily totals for these nutrients. Fun Fact: It’s recommended people consume 0.36g of protein per pound of body weight. Besides consuming enough protein you should also make sure you’re getting enough all 9 amino acids. This can keep you on track for your daily intake. It can also help to make sure various physical/mental functions are working properly on a daily basis.

What’s so essential about “essential” aminos? People are required to get such aminos from food/supplements because the body doesn’t produce them. There are various ways you can boost your intake of these aminos including real food and dietary supplements. Both of these sources are good ones and can ensure you’re getting enough aminos including branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). They’ve been trending in recent years as some of the top EAAs for building muscle, workout recovery, and other benefits. So it’s a good idea to consider foods/supplements with BCAAs and other EAAs. That, in turn, will keep you on track health-wise.

What Are Essential Amino Acids All About?

These are 9 amino acids that the body can’t produce. So it’s necessary for people to get them from food and supplements. This differs from non-essential aminos that the body produces. In that case, a person’s body produces them naturally.

However, there might be problems due to health conditions, bad diet, and so on. When that happens you can boost your NEAA intake from food/supplements. This can help to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need from the NEAAs.

Essential aminos must always be consumed from food and dietary supplements. You can get EAAs from foods like:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Dairy

In some situations, you can get all the daily EAAs from a single food. Some examples include salmon, eggs, soybeans, and yogurt. However, in other situations, you have to combine two “incomplete” proteins. This includes options like whole-wheat bread & peanut butter or grains & beans. These combinations provide nutritional value that is similar to “complete” proteins.  

You’ll need different amounts of different aminos. That includes about 40mg of Leucine. This is the highest amount you need among all EAAs. Meanwhile, lower amounts are required for other EAAs. The key is to make sure you’re getting enough of each and every EAA for your dietary needs.

Here’s why. When you get enough EAAs it helps to make sure your body functions properly. On the other hand, that’s less likely to happen if you’re not getting enough of various EAAs whether it’s through food or supplements.

One issue to consider is how well your body processes certain foods/aminos. If there are health issues, for example, then this could require you to consume more of certain aminos than normal. In that case, supplements are often a good option since it’s easier to increase your intake easily.

Top Foods with Essential Amino Acids

The most obvious ones are animal-sourced foods. They include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

These are all complete proteins since they have enough of all 9 EAAs. In other words, you’ll get all the EAAs you need for the day.

Meanwhile, there are also several plant-based foods that are also high in amino acids including:

GRAINS/CEREALS

Quinoa is one of the best ones since it’s often considered a complete protein. However, you have many other options like corn, wheat, barley, oats, etc. Whole grains aren’t low-carb but they’re loaded with many nutrients. In fact, if you ditch all grains it’s tough to get those same nutrients from other foods.

 SEEDS

This includes a wide range of options like:

  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Flax
  • Chia
  • Sesame

The nutrition facts for these foods are somewhat different. However, you get lots of protein/amino, healthy fats, vitamins/minerals, and fiber. In fact, when the fiber is subtracted from the total carbs it makes the net carbs quite low. Sometimes it’s as low as 1g of net carbs per serving!

LENTILS

This includes beans and peas. You have lots of options including:

  • Kidney Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Split Peas
  • Lima Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • White Beans

Many of these beans have about one-third of protein’s DV.

Soybeans are one of the best options. They are complete proteins will all your EAAs for one day. There are also various options like soy milk, miso soup, etc. Soybeans are definitely one of the best protein sources for vegans/vegetarians.

 TOFU

The amount of protein can be up to 17g, which is about one-third of your daily value (DV). This is quite high. However, it’s based on various factors including soybeans, processing, and brand. Make sure to shop around so you can find a high-protein tofu brand for your daily diet.

MILK/CREAM

These are both complete proteins. Make sure to watch for adding salt/sugar since it can make the dairy product less healthy. However, both of these are high-protein/amino.

EGGS

Most of an egg’s nutrients are in the yolk. That includes amino/protein, healthy fat, good cholesterol, etc. This is also a complete protein when you eat the yolk/whites. So it’s a good option to consider hard-boiled eggs, for example.

MUSHROOMS

This is a decent source of protein/amino. You get close to 10% of protein’s DV from different kinds of mushrooms. Some options like shiitake and portobello. Fun Fact: portabella mushrooms can be used as a low-carb/gluten-free hamburger bun.

Another key feature of mushrooms is they’re high in antioxidants. They can help to fight off illness/disease, which is always a plus for general health.

FISH/SHELLFISH

These are good alternatives to red meat like beef and pork. Fish and shellfish are both high in protein, healthy fat, and vitamins/minerals. If you want more healthy omega-3s then go with fatty fish. Shellfish are also high in omega-3s.

YOGURT

This is a good source of amino, healthy fats, calcium, and Vitamin D. It’s also a good option for good digestion. Yogurt contains “good” bacteria, which can improve gut health and reduce inflammation.

A Greek yogurt is a good option if you’re looking for a thicker texture. It’s a good idea to go with plain yogurt then add your own toppings. One of the problems with flavored yogurt is it often contains lots of added sugar, which can offset any health benefits you get from the yogurt itself.

NUTS

The nutrition facts for nuts/peanuts are very similar to seeds. For example, they’re high in protein, healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins/minerals. The actual minerals and vitamins in each type will differ somewhat. Like seeds, it’s best to eat a wide variety so you can get different nutrients from different ones like foods with essential amino acids.

list of foods with essential amino acids

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