When you consume protein, the molecules are broken down into amino acids also referred as building blocks of protein. There are about 20 amino-acids that are constructed in a certain pattern to make human protein. Of these 20, eight are essential. The word essential would mean that they must be obtained through diet. Although you may obtain sufficient quantity of protein in your diet, the total quantity of the essential amino acids present may not be optimal. Non-availability of essential amino-acids leads to less than optimal assimilation and thus less protein efficiency.

For the above stated reasons protein is rated by means of protein efficiency ratio (PER). The PER of protein reflects its quality. While some foods can be classified as incomplete proteins (most of the vegetarian sources) others include all the essential amino acids , and are regarded as complete protein (eggs, milk, meat, and fish). Complete proteins have the highest PER and thus have the highest assimilation.

Vegetarians may not fret on the above issue, but rather try consuming protein from various sources so that the requirement of eight essential amino-acids is met with. For example, dieticians state that when it comes to consuming sprouts, several varieties be included to make it more complete. Consuming any one variety would not suffice, for it would not have all the eight essential amino-acids, but when a variety of sources are included chances are that you may workup to the required (8) numbers.

Vegetarian sources: Sprouts, dry nuts (the benefit of consuming dry nuts is twofold, for they provide protein and healthy fats too), milk, low fat cheese, legumes, and lentils.

Non-vegetarian sources: Eggs, fish, chicken, lamb, shrimps, and other sea foods.

Non-vegetarian sources: Eggs, fish, chicken, lamb, shrimps, and other sea foods.

PS: Dry nut sources: Almond, cashew, and walnut.