How Much Protein?

Whether lifting weights, running sprints, or sprinting for the end zone, athletes’ bodies need additional nutrients to recover from intense physical activity. During exercise your muscle cells break down and protein from foods help repair this damage and build up more muscle mass. Because of this, there is no doubt that protein plays an important role in an athlete’s diet. Consuming too little can affect athletic performance but too much can increase weight gain. With high protein diets becoming popular, how much is really necessary?

While protein needs are higher in athletes, they are not as high as recently thought. According to the American College of Sports Medicine an adult male athlete needs about 84 to 119 grams of protein per day and an adult females is about 66 to 94 grams. The calculations are dependent on weight and type of physical activity. In comparison, a sedentary adult male needs about 56 grams of protein a day and a females is about 46 grams.

 Not only is the amount of protein important, but also the type. Unfortunately not all protein is equal. While either trying to build muscle or participating in a high endurance sport, picking a healthy protein option will help get you the nutrients you need without all the extra calories. In addition, getting most of your protein from “real food” sources such as poultry, fish, yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes has proven to increase your body’s ability to utilize it. Feel free to check out our Strawberry Protein Shake recipe that even the youngest family member will enjoy!

When determining protein requirements for athletes, it’s also equally important to focus on the overall diet. It is shown that athletes who consume diets with enough carbohydrate and fat use less protein for energy. This leaves the protein available to build and maintain lean body mass. In short, athletes need to ensure that they are consuming adequate carbs and fat in addition to protein while focusing on healthy food sources.

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