Ever wonder how much protein athletes need? First, let us know more about what protein is and its source.
What is protein?
Protein is an essential component of every cell in the body it is often called the building blocks of the body. It consists of combinations of structures called amino acids. They combine in various ways to make muscles, bone, tendons, skin, hair, nails, and other tissues.
As per the Wikipedia, proteins are large biomolecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more long chains of amino acid residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including catalyzing metabolic reactions, DNA replication, responding to stimuli, and transporting molecules from one location to another.
Proteins differ from one another primarily in their sequence of amino acids, which is dictated by the nucleotide sequence of their genes, and which usually results in protein folding into a specific three-dimensional structure that determines its activity.
We often hear that some elite athletes undergo high protein diet before a crucial game or a match. Athletes and people who do heavy exercise or high endurance training need more protein than a regular person. Alongside with carbohydrates (or sugar) and fats (or lipids), protein is a required nutrient for the body.
Our body uses protein to build and repair tissues. It is a macronutrient, meaning that our body needs large amounts of it and we need to supply it every day because the body does not store it. What does it do? Protein transports nutrients and assists in enzyme production.
Athletes, on the other hand, need protein primarily for repairing and rebuilding muscles that are broken down during exercise. Protein also helps optimize carbohydrate storage in the form of glycogen.
How much protein does an individual need?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that although athletes only need about one gram of protein per kilogram to maintain muscle mass, they require 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram to build muscle mass. This is equivalent to about 0.64 to 0.82 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.
To find out how much protein requirement a person needs, just multiply your weight in kilograms by 1.4 to 1.7, depending on your exercise intensity. This gives you the amount of protein in grams that you should consume on a daily basis.
If you are not familiar with using kilograms, convert it from a pound to kilograms by dividing your result by 2.2. For example, a 165 pound or 75-kilogram athlete in high training mode should consume about 128 grams of protein daily.
Where can you get your daily dose of protein?
Many athletes rely on drinking a protein shake or chewing protein bars, but there are many natural sources of protein. Fishes are an excellent source of protein because it is usually low in fat.
However, some fishes- like salmon – has a little higher protein but don’t be alarmed as it is heart friendly because of its omega -3 fatty acids. The suggested amount for fish is around three ounces that can give you 21 grams of protein.
Poultry is also a good source of protein. White meat is more advisable given the fact that dark meat has more fats. Just bear in mind to remove the skin before cooking, because the skin is loaded with saturated fat. Three ounces of chicken, turkey, or beef can give you 21 grams of protein.
Dairy goods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are packed with protein. They also contain valuable calcium, and many are fortified with vitamin D. The optional amount for milk and yogurt is eight ounces which can give you eight grams of protein.
Three ounces of cheese contains 21 grams of protein. If you want a cheap alternative, you can go with eggs. Pop some eggs onto your meal to make it packed with proteins. Two large eggs can give you 13 grams of protein.
Soy and beans can give you proteins as well. One-half cup of beans contains as much protein as an ounce or broiled steak and three ounces of tofu can supply 15 grams of protein. Also, these foods can be useful to your heart, keep you feeling full for hours, and help you eat less throughout the day.
What types of people need the high protein diet?
David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, lists
Four types of people that may benefit from higher protein intake as follows:
- First off the list is the bodybuilders. Since bodybuilders do a lot of resistance training or taxing endurance exercise. They tear down muscle tissue that needs to be repaired and rebuilt. “If you’re trying to build muscle cells and you don’t have those amino acids, you don’t build muscle,” Katz explained.
- Second, people who are prone to weight gain. Tom Rifai, MD, regional medical director of metabolic health and weight management for the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit went on to explain that “there’s a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest that higher protein, depending on where the protein comes from, may help with low-calorie compliance by providing satiety.” Since protein takes a long time to digest, it can make us feel that we are full thus reducing our craving to eat.
- Third are the people who love sugar and carbohydrates. Eating protein packed foods can help us eat less sugary food. In a randomized trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease (OmniHeart), people who replaced some carbohydrates with protein saw lower blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol.
- Last on the list are people in middle age. Aging comes with inevitable muscle loss, which is why getting extra protein may be helpful.
Learning that protein can help a lot whether you’re an athlete or not may urge you to grab some healthy protein food and change your lifestyle.
It doesn’t hurt to try but remember to take the recommended amount to make the best out of it.