Brown Rice Protein Amino Acid Profile: Is It Complete?


Brown rice protein is one of the most common vegan protein powder ingredients.

Here’s a graph of brown rice’s standard amino acid profile:

brown rice protein amino acid profile

(Data Source)

Even though it’s a bit tough to see, the essential amino acids are marked with a star (*).

You can compare the amino acid profile of other protein sources against brown rice using our amino acid profile comparison tool.

Here’s the data again in table form if you prefer:

Amino Acid % of total amino acids
Alanine 5.8
Arginine 8.2
Aspartic Acid 9
Cystine 2.2
Glutamic Acid 18
Glycine 4.6
Histidine* 2.4
Isoleucine* 4.5
Leucine* 8.3
Lysine* 3.1
Methionine* 2.9
Phenylalanine* 5.7
Proline 3.7
Serine 5.1
Threonine* 3.8
Tryptophan* 1.5
Tyrosine 5.5
Valine* 5.9

Is Brown Rice Protein a Complete Protein?

Let’s be clear here, brown rice is not a complete protein because rice has such a low amount of protein in it.

However, when brown rice protein is extracted, which is usually how it’s added to certain foods and supplements, it obviously has enough protein to be looked at further.

The second aspect of a complete protein is the balance of essential amino acids.

Let’s compare brown rice protein’s essential amino acid to the minimum standards of a complete protein set by the WHO (1).

Complete Protein (min %)
Brown Rice (%)
Histidine 1.5 2.4
Isoleucine 3 4.5
Leucine 5.9 8.3
Lysine 4.5 3.1
Methionine+Cysteine 1.6 5.1
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine 3 11.2
Threonine 2.3 3.8
Valine 3.9 5.9

Like many grains, brown rice protein is low in lysine.

Another factor you need to consider is that rice in general has a very low amount of protein, unless you’re consuming brown rice protein powder, you can’t realistically meet all your protein needs just from rice.

Protein Sources to Eat With Brown Rice

At this point, you might want to think about protein sources that have a relatively high amount of lysine.

On top of most traditional protein sources like meat and dairy which tend to have a lot of protein, there are many good plant-based sources of lysine like:

  • Legumes – Soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, and pretty much every other type of bean has a high amount of lysine.
  • Oats and buckwheat groats – Certain grains also have an amino acid profile that is relatively high in lysine.
  • Nuts – While the amount of lysine in nuts isn’t extremely high, it’s still above average. The best nuts are peanuts (yes, I know, not a “nut), cashews, almonds, and pine nuts.

You’re probably not going to pair rice alongside oats in the same meal, but beans and rice is a classic combination, and there are many nut-based sauces that can be added to rice dishes as well.

Overall Summary of Brown Rice Protein’s Amino Acid Profile

Brown rice is almost a complete protein (a bit lacking in lysine as noted in a comment below).

It contains all the essential amino acids, and its amino acids are well balanced, even more so than dairy milk.

Another comparable amino acid profile is spirulina, which is another great plant-based source of protein.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.

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