I’ve spent the last half hour doing some linear algebra to figure out which blend of vegan proteins has the greatest PDCAAS score, as laid out by the 2005 PDCAAS* specification, in search of the ultimate vegan protein.
I’ve so far looked at blends of hemp, pea, rice, and soy, tested in varying proportions; ratios are incremented in jumps of 5%. I used the following digestibility figures: hemp has a digestibility of 85%, pea has 95%, rice has 76%, and soy has 95%, taken from various places over the internet. You can check the amino acid spectra of each of these proteins at TN.com.
I’ve given each blend a score on a scale of 0.0000-1.0000, rather than from 0-100, just because my software did it that way and I don’t want to change it now. All scores are formatted as the following: %hemp/pea/rice/soy: score.
These are some preliminary results, and I stress that they’re almost certainly going to be “tweaked” further as I get more info. I’ll be updating this thread if I make further adjustments.
Here’s a list of all of the protein blends that came up with a perfect score, the “golden proteins”:
All of these have scores listed as higher than 1.0000, but according to the “official” PDCAAS, any score higher than 1 is equivalent to a score of 1.0000, in that it’s a “perfectly complete” type of protein. So, these are all “perfect.” Let’s quickly extend this with a search for proteins which have a score listed as higher than 0.99000:
The “virtually golden” proteins:
For all intents and purposes, these are “complete” proteins by the PDCAAS measure, meaning that they strongly match the “ideal” amino acid profile. If you go down to a score of 0.98000 and higher, you end up with a ton more, almost all of which are just altered versions of the ones listed above with 5% moved around here and there, and likewise as you go down into the 0.90s. Since anything in the 0.90s is very good, So, you can’t go wrong if you start with the above list and make some 5-10% tweaks here and there, and are virtually guaranteed a high-scoring protein.
Finally, here are the PDCAAS specs for pure blends of protein:
Hemp protein powder: 0.3517
Gemma pea isolate: 0.6346
Rice protein concentrate: 0.5077
Soy protein isolate: 0.9771
Whey protein isolate cold-filtration: 0.8525 (for reference)**
As you can see, there is no individual protein that does anywhere near as good as the blends except for soy. This is rather remarkable.
While almost all of the proteins don’t perform very well on their own except for soy, when blended together, their PDCAAS’s go through the roof. You can see that the pea/rice synergy is particularly strong. Thus, at least as far as the PDCAAS is concerned, vegan protein blends tend do much better than individual vegan proteins in isolation.
It is notable that #1 on the list is the 70/30 mix of pea/rice, which has been previously well-touted on here for its exceptional amino spectrum; this model replicates these results. If PDCAAS weren’t “capped” at a max score of 1, this would be the best of all possible blends.
Additionally, there are some other blends which I haven’t seen mentioned before, but which are also “perfect”, such as 45/20/35 pea/rice/soy and 35/15/50 pea/rice/soy. It would be worth experimenting with these to see which offers the best flavor, because all receive a “perfect” PDCAAS score. These were found mathematically; have they been mentioned on here before?
There are many “very good” proteins on this list which are just slightly altered versions of “even better” proteins. For instance, 0/65/30/5: 1.0037 is just 0/70/30/0: 1.0141, where you’ve given 5% of pea to soy, leaving you with a negligible impact on the PDCAAS. I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with this when wading through the results.
Also extremely notable is that hemp fails to make an appearance at all, and this trend continues down the list. The first time hemp appears in nonzero proportion is 5/65/25/5: 0.98976, but this is just a slightly crappier version of 0/65/30/5: 1.0037. This pattern continues down the list, and in general, the PDCAAS of blends with hemp is typically improved by taking away the hemp and putting in something else instead. Furthermore, there are only two times that hemp appears on the list in 25% or more proportion that still yields a PDCAAS of over 0.90: 25/40/5/30: 0.9034, and 25/50/10/15: 0.9037, both just barely in the 90s.
In short, the above should be a pretty good starting point to “complete” vegan proteins, at least as far as the PDCAAS is concerned. If you use any of the “golden” proteins and just shift things around slightly to taste, you can’t go wrong.
And oh yeah, why did I spend so much time doing this? Because I’m sick of whey and I wanted to see if I could find the “perfect” vegan protein. So, now that there’s a bunch of contenders, I’m going to go down the list and find the thing which tastes best with one of the natural premium flavors, and finally come up with the greatest “all-natural” vegan protein in the world! I figured I’d share my results with you guys, since I want more people to try this stuff, and I also want TN to succeed.
Hope you found this all helpful.
*For those who don’t know, the PDCAAS is a sort of measure of the “quality” of a type of protein. There’s been some criticism of the applicability of the PDCAAS to strength athletes undergoing resistance training, since it was developed specifically to measure protein quality as a way of combating malnutrition for those in third-world countries. At diets closer to what typical strength athletes eat, it may lose its predictive power. However, this seems as good a way as any to evaluate the “completeness” of a type of protein, and it’s just for fun! (If anyone has any suggestions about better methods, please let me know and I’ll rerun the tests).
**Note also that in the literature, soy and whey both typically are cited as having a PDCAAS of 1.0000. In this case, soy mostly lives up to its name, though whey is a bit less. These are the results of the actual PDCAAS calculation as run on the given amino spectrums from the TN site, so the amino composition might differ slightly from the “reference” whey used in the literature. (In this case, it turns out that the only thing stopping the WPI from having a PDCAAS of 1.0000 is its low histidine content.) Oddly enough, hemp is rated at only 0.3517, whereas in the literature it’s usually more around 0.5-0.6. In this case, it would have ranked up around there were it not for its low lysine content; it’s possible that TN’s hemp differs from the hemp used to measure the PDCAAS in the literature.
i have hear a website(more of a forum) with a some guys who have made some calculations to try and figure out the best protein mixture to have the best bodily absorption and usage of the protein you digest. it’s mostly for the vegetarians out there so you can get a cheap and effective way of geting your protein sources complimented.