Seitan (and Vital Wheat Gluten) Amino Acid Profile

S

Vital wheat gluten is a savior for vegan athletes and bodybuilders, as long as they aren’t gluten intolerant or have a wheat allergy.

It’s got similar macros to vegan protein powder, and yet tastes really good in seitan 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.

Vital Wheat Gluten’s Amino Acid Profile

You can read that study yourself, or just see the table below with the relevant data from it.

This is per 100 grams of vital wheat gluten. That’s about as much as I eat in a large serving of seitan, but I eat quite a bit. If you’re on the smaller side, you’ll probably end up eating closer to 50 grams in a meal with seitan.

  RDA RDA Wheat Gluten (Seitan) %RDA In a Serving (100g)
  mg per kg mg for 70 kg person mg per 100 g 370 cals
Threonine (mg) 15 1050 2100 200
Isoleucine (mg) 20 1400 3075 220
Leucine (mg) 39 2730 5400 198
Lysine (mg) 30 2100 1050 50
Methionine (mg) 15 1050 975 93
Phenylalanine (mg) 25 1750 3300 189
Valine (mg) 26 1820 4050 223
Histidine (mg) 10 700 1275 182

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 a 100 gram serving, you exceed the RDA (for a 70 kg person) for all essential amino acids except lysine. Wheat gluten happens to be one of the best vegan sources of tryptophan.

However, the lysine is relatively low, it takes about 2 (big) servings to get the RDA for it.

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 vital wheat gluten, or use it as a primary protein source, it’s pretty clear that most people won’t get enough of all essential amino acids.

But you add other ingredients to vital wheat gluten to make seitan. Here’s a more detailed post on if seitan is a complete protein.

Long story short, it isn’t a complete protein in most cases.

It 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.

Finally, there’s more to seitan than just the amino acids, so see this page of seitan nutrition facts.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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.