How much protein do athletes require?
Proteins are an essential part of the human diet as they provide the crucial building blocks for the development and maintenance of numerous structures within the body. Protein is one of the three macronutrients found in foods (along with carbohydrates and fats). It is very important to know as an athlete, how much protein you should be consuming and what are the best foods to eat in order to get enough protein in the diet. This article will discuss what proteins are why are they important, how much protein should you be consuming, and then what are the best foods to eat in order to ensure you are getting enough protein.
What are proteins?
All proteins are made up of smaller components called amino acids. There are 22 different amino acids, some of these our body will make and the rest we need to get from the foods we eat. The role of a protein in the body (what it does), will depend on the combination of amino acids in that protein. This means that a skin protein, a hair protein and a muscle protein will all have a different amino acid make up. Proteins are crucial for structural roles such as creation and maintenance of tissues including hair, skin and muscle; with hormone production, assist in digestion and have a role in numerous other bodily processes.
How much should you be eating?
James is a 28 year old (183cm, 82kg) male who plays football on Saturdays and trains 2x per week. He also does resistance training at a gym 2x per week and has been doing so for the last 5 years.
On the days James is playing or training for football according to these recommendations he should be eating between 114.8-139.4gm of protein (1.4-1.7x82kg). The lower range for less strenuous sessions or when feeling fine, the higher amount for really hard games/training or if feeling run down. On days James does resistance training I would suggest aiming for 82-98.4gm of protein as he is in the steady state category. If James is doing both activities on the same day then go with the higher amount. On rest days or days in which no exercise occurs then he should aim for 0.8×82=65.6gm
Sarah is 34 years old (166cm, 72kg) female that plays competitive basketball once a week, runs twice a week and does weights twice a week.
Sarah will require the most protein on the days she plays basketball, requiring between 86.4-100.8gm per day. On the days Sarah runs and does weights, she will only require around 1.0gm/kg, which will equate to around 72gm per day. This can be reduced a little further on the days she does no physical activity to 57.6gm.
These are guides for you check on every now and then, and to refer to if feeling run down or not achieving desired results. You should not obsess about these numbers as some days you will get more and some days you will consume less.
What are the best protein sources?
Protein sources vary in terms of the amount of amino acids and types they contain. They also differ by what other nutrients or components make up the protein source. An example of this is a protein bar versus quinoa. A protein bar will generally contain poor quality milk proteins, colours, fillers and processed carbs/sugars. This compares with quinoa which is lower in protein, but is a good clean protein source accompanied by complex carbohydrates and a good amount of fibre. So a very important factor to consider is where are you getting the protein from in deciding what to eat.
Protein is a very important part of the diet and ensuring that as an athlete you are consuming enough protein from good quality sources will go a long way to helping you to stay healthy and to perform at your best.
Hopefully this article has provided you with some useful information.
In partnership with Berry Fitness Centre & the Support Local program