Seitan Amino Acid Profile (Is It a Complete Protein?)

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Seitan is a savior for vegan athletes and bodybuilders.

It’s got similar macros to vegan protein powder, and yet tastes really good and can be added to many recipes.

If this isn’t the first page you’ve gone to looking for seitan’s amino acid profile, it’s because there isn’t a single profile.

The term “seitan” is the name of the meal, not a particular ingredient.

It’s main ingredient is vital wheat gluten, but it also can contain several other ingredients.

But the majority of protein in seitan will be from the wheat gluten, so we can look at the amino acid profile of vital wheat gluten instead.

That’s also hard to find, but I found a study with the data we need.

You can read that yourself, or I’ve created a convenient table below with the relevant data from it:

RDA RDA Wheat Gluten (Seitan) %RDA In a Serving (100g)
mg per kg for 70 kg person %RDA per 100 cal 370 cals
Tryptophan (mg) 4 280 73 269
Threonine (mg) 15 1050 48 179
Isoleucine (mg) 20 1400 58 215
Leucine (mg) 39 2730 51 187
Lysine (mg) 30 2100 12 43
Methionine (mg) 15 1050 35 129
Phenylalanine (mg) 25 1750 57 211
Valine (mg) 26 1820 46 169
Histidine (mg) 10 700 64 236

For reference, 70 kg is about 154 pounds, which is about the size of an average person.

The far right column is the most interesting one.

With just a single 100 gram serving, you exceed the RDA (for a 70 kg person) for all essential amino acids except lysine.

Even though lysine is relatively low, it takes just over 2 servings to get the RDA for it.

Not bad.

Is Seitan a Complete Protein Then?

The whole concept of a complete protein is a bit of a mess, since you don’t need to consider foods in isolation in most cases.

But, if you only ate seitan, or use it as a primary protein source, it’s pretty clear that you’ll easily get enough of all essential amino acids.

That’s the accepted definition of a complete protein, so seitan qualifies.

In reality, it probably wouldn’t be optimal to only eat seitan for protein, but you’d get by okay.

You may also enjoy my comparison of seitan vs tofu vs tempeh, where we put the three plant-based protein sources head-to-head.

About the author

Dale C.

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance writer. Trying to do my small part in making the world better by writing about the wonderful world of veganism.

2 comments

    • It’s a no-go for people with celiac disease. But despite what many claim, only a small percentage of people beyond that have any real sensitivity to gluten beyond that.