Lentils are an extremely popular and versatile food item that’s packed with proteins, vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
Lentils are the perfect example of plant based proteins that are affordable and best suited for vegetarians and vegans who intend to increase their protein intake and reach their fitness goals.
However, simply consuming lentils and not including any other source of protein in your diet isn’t sufficient to meet your protein requirements.
To ensure you are getting the required dosage of protein everyday, you must complement lentils with other food items and cook them properly.
With this right approach, one can gain the nutrition of lentils while getting proteins from other sources too. Read ahead to know more about how to eat lentils the right way to get maximum nutrition.
Can You Get Enough Protein From Lentils?
No, one cannot obtain sufficient protein from lentils alone.
It’s true that lentils are an excellent source of plant based protein. However, it must be mentioned in this regard, that it isn’t a complete protein source. Simply relying on lentils for protein wouldn’t provide you with the minimum amount of protein your body needs.
If you solely rely on lentils to meet your protein requirements, you would need to consume at least four bowls of boiled lentils, which can also be high in carbs.
Additionally, lentils do not provide complete proteins, which means they lack some essential amino acids. For this reason, it is recommended to combine lentils with other protein-rich items to ensure you are getting a complete protein profile.
What Protein Is Missing From Lentils?
Lentils are a great source of essential amino acids, containing ample amounts of eight out of the nine amino acids our body needs.
However, compared to other protein sources, lentils are slightly deficient in methionine.
It is not possible to obtain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids from lentils alone.
That’s why it’s important to combine lentils along with other foods to get the necessary amount of protein.
How To Make Lentils A Full Protein?
The only way one can make lentils a complete protein source is by consuming it with other protein sources. This is especially important for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Lentils are slightly deficient in the essential amino acid methionine, which can be complemented by pairing them with whole grains or different seeds that offer the necessary amino acids.
Additionally, you can add other protein-rich foods to your lentil-based meals, such as paneer, tofu, nuts, or curd.
One can also eat lentils with nuts, seeds, and whole grains and can meet the daily requirement of proteins, without even consuming any animal products.
It is essential to include a variety of protein-rich foods in your diet to ensure that your body receives all the necessary amino acids.
If you consume lentils for protein and also incorporate other sources of protein into your diet on the same day, you are more likely to obtain the amino acids required to provide your body with complete proteins.
By combining different protein sources, you can create a balanced and nutritious diet that promotes optimal health.
What To Mix With Lentils To Make Complete Protein?
To obtain a complete source of amino acids, one can mix small amounts of complete proteins with lentils.
While most plant-based protein sources are incomplete, soybeans and quinoa are exceptions.
In contrast, animal-based protein sources such as dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are all complete proteins.
An excellent example of a dish combining both complete and incomplete proteins is lentil and beef stew.
Below enlisted are some items that can be consumed along with lentils to get maximum protein for your body:
Combining grains like rice, oats, wheat, rye, and corn with legumes such as lentils can create complementary proteins. This is perhaps the best way to eat lentils.
Grains contain the amino acids cysteine and methionine that are deficient in lentils, while lentils provide lysine that is not present in grains in adequate amounts. It is essential to opt for whole grains instead of refined grains for maximum nutritional benefits.
White rice is a good source of supplementary protein, as it is high in methionine, which complements the amino acid profile of lentils. To create a complete protein profile, a ratio of 0.3 cup of lentils (54g) and 1.1 cups of white rice (204g) is recommended.
Any ratio above 4:1 of white rice to lentils will provide a complete protein profile.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts or seeds can also be used as complementary proteins for lentils. This pairing provides a more complete protein profile than that of legumes and grains. For example, adding nuts to a lentil salad can create a meal with complete protein.
Brazil nuts can be a good source of supplementary protein, as they are high in methionine which complements the amino acid profile of lentils. A ratio of 0.5 cup of lentils and 0.9 tablespoon of Brazil nuts creates a complete protein profile.
Chia seeds are a good source of complementary protein for lentils, high in methionine. A ratio of 0.4 cup of lentils and 0.5 ounce of chia seeds creates a complete protein profile.
How Do You Eat Lentils For Maximum Protein?
There are various ways to eat lentils. Lentils can be boiled and added to soups, stews, or casseroles, or even used as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes.
Lentils can also be cooked and served as a side dish, or added to salads for a healthy and filling meal.
Here are some ways to get its nutrition:
Sprouted Lentil Salad
The sprouted lentil salad is a satisfying, delicious and healthy meal. To prepare this, lentils that have sprouted are taken. Alongside some fresh veggies for extra vitamins and protein is added. This meal can be eaten at any time of the day as a side meal or snack. Rest assured it will keep you full and energetic throughout the day.
Studies have shown that after seed germination, the concentration of protein increases from 24.4% to 29%, irrespective of the kind of lentil. Comparative studies conducted using different varieties of pulses have also demonstrated that lentils have the highest protein concentration and it drastically increases after germination.
Dal Khichdi is a popular dish for its nutritional benefits, especially when paired with rice to get a complete set of protein. To enhance its nutritional value, a power-packed recipe combining three types of lentils is recommended by experts.
Soup is a versatile dish that allows for plenty of experimentation with different herbs and vegetables. A comforting lentil soup can provide essential nutrients and help boost your immune system to protect against infections and the flu.
When it comes to parathas, the thought of oily and unhealthy food often comes to mind. However, parathas can be made healthier with minimal oil.
One option is to make dal stuffed paratha which is a great way to add more protein to your diet. You can enjoy it with yogurt or chutney for a tasty and nutritious meal.
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Does Boiling Lentils Remove Protein?
When lentils are cooked by boiling, their protein content is denatured, but they become more digestible.
This means that boiling lentils makes them softer and easier to digest, which makes their nutrients more available to the body. Therefore, boiling lentils is a great way to make them more nourishing and digestible for the body.
Does Cooking Reduce Protein In Lentils?
There are multiple ways to cook lentils. No matter which method you follow, make sure you do not overcook them.
Overcooking lentils can reduce their nutritional value as it can lead to the breakdown of important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
When lentils are overcooked, they lose their texture and become mushy, making them less appealing to consume. It is essential to cook lentils until they are soft and tender, but not to the point where they are overcooked.
Turning off the heat 2-3 minutes early and allowing the lentils to cook in their steam can help prevent overcooking and preserve their nutritional value.
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The Bottom Line
Lentils are a versatile and delicious source of protein that can be consumed in countless ways to ensure that you get your daily dose of nutrients.
While they are not a complete source of protein on their own, they can be paired with rice, nuts, and seeds to create a complete protein profile. For vegans and vegetarians, lentils are an especially important source of protein and a valuable addition to any diet.
So whether you enjoy them in soups, salads, or parathas, don’t forget to incorporate lentils into your meals for a nutritious and satisfying experience.