written by Gitanjali Jaswal, SPORTS NUTRITIONIST on Aug 21, 2017 in NUTRITION
How Much Protein Is Good For You?
Athletes and sports enthusiasts, who are training for fitness, expend more energy than the average person, so their bodies need additional nutrients to recover from the intense physical activity. The proportions of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals in the diet must match up to their unique metabolic demands, body type, body composition, specific sport training and related activity level.
Recent research do confirms protein’s vital role as a nutrition component for health and performance. Protein is needed for growth, maintenance and repair of body structures (including muscles) and the production of enzymes, hormones and DNA. It can also be broken down to provide energy (4 calories per gram of protein). Proteins are made up of folded chains of units called amino acids.
There are about 22 Amino acids that are considered biologically important. Chemically it’s the number and the order of amino acids in the chain that determines the type of protein. Therefore it’s important that the right amounts and types of amino acids must be consumed in the diet in order to meet the body’s protein needs. Animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products generally supply a combination of amino acids that meets human needs better than plant proteins. However, vegetarian diets that contain only plant foods such as grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and legumes, can also meet protein needs.
Having known about Proteins in general, lets now see some specific protein / amino acid related info that can have athletic significance:
• Protein is essential for both growth and recovery. • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)-Isoleucin, leucin and valin-are all essential amino acids that make up about 35% of the amino acids in muscle tissue. Under condition of stress, injury or exercise, high amount of BCAA are required to maintain nitrogen balance. • Glutamic Acid and Glutamine are important amino acids for growth of muscle tissue. • Individual Amino acids can elicit targeted effects for athletes. • Collagen is a type of protein which makes upto 1/3rd of the total body protein content, making it one of the most common proteins in the body. It provides strength and cushioning to many different areas of the body, including the skin. More specifically, collagen is found in various types of connective tissue in our body such as in the skin, cartilage, tendons, bones and ligaments.
Another important fact that is worth taking a note is about body’s inability to store excess amounts of protein. The body essentially uses protein for its needs and then burns it for energy. If it does not need to use it for this matter, then it converts the protein into fat and packs it onto our thighs and everywhere else for that matter!!! Therefore, balancing the right amount of protein in one’s diet is essential for an athlete competing to win….
So how much protein does our body requires??
In General the total protein needs of many athletes will be met by the general recommendation of 1g of protein per kilogram of body weight—e.g. 60 g for a 60 kg athlete. But athletes whose daily training sessions are lengthy and intense (burning up a significant total of protein fuel) or who are in a muscle-gain stage of their programs, will require an increase in their prescribed protein allowance. However, this doesn’t mean that one goes rushing for a protein powder carte blanche. I would instead recommend the planned meal route to pump in more protein. But remember Protein intake should be monitored carefully, especially around one’s events and competitions.
Some of the protein recommended dietary allowances (RDA) that can be useful knowledge are -
• For non-exercising healthy men & women of age 19 years and older, 0.8g / kg of body weight /day is sufficient • For endurance exercise, recommended protein intakes ranges from of 1.0 g to 1.6 g/kg of body weight / day depending on the intensity and duration of the endurance exercise, as well as the training status of the individual. For example, an elite endurance athlete requires a greater level of protein intake almost at the higher end the aforementioned range (1.0 to 1.6 g/kg of body wt /day). • Strength/power exercise increases the protein requirements even more than the endurance exercise, particularly during the initial stages of training. Recommendations for strength/power exercise typically range from 1.6 to 2.0 g/kg of body wt /day
In summary, it is the position of the International Society of Sport Nutrition that exercising individuals ingest protein ranging from 1.4 to 2.0 g/kg of body wt /day. Individuals engaging in endurance exercise should ingest levels at the lower end of this range, individuals engaging in intermittent activities should ingest levels in the middle of this range, and those engaging in strength/power exercise should ingest levels at the upper end of this range. It is also important that the exercising individuals should consume high quality protein within the time period encompassing their exercise session (i.e. before, during, and after). Protein ingestion after exercise, when muscle is most sensitive to nutrient intake, will boost muscle protein synthesis and recovery.
What do I need to eat to ensure adequate protein intake in my diet?? Here’s a good pictorial depiction (from the web) of rich source of proteins in our diet..
Some other protein rich foods and supplements with their approx. protein content are -
Now that we know the ideal quantity of protein which our body needs and also which are the ideal diet source of getting this protein, let’s look a common question that crops up when we go for protein loading-
Is it bad to eat a high-protein diet?
This question has different answers, depending on what you mean by ‘high protein’. It is true that some athletes can eat protein in quantities far greater than the suggested targets simply because they have high energy needs. In these cases, their total energy budget will allow them to meet all their other nutritional goals as well.
While very high protein intake can cause extra load on the kidneys, crop up extra water needs and a negative effect on calcium balance, these problems appear to be more of a possibility than a reality in otherwise healthy people. The kidneys take care of some filtering of waste products made when our bodies digest protein and there's some evidence to suggest that diets higher in protein put a greater strain on the kidneys to do this crucial job. However some medical studies found that the related damage was only noticeable among people with early stages of kidney disease.
Another often discussed side effect of high protein intake is the ‘protein dehydration’. Medically, one of the waste products created by the kidneys during the filtering process is the blood urea nitrogen. Researchers and physicians use blood urea nitrogen levels to evaluate the kidney function, and it's also a measure of how hydrated a person is. In a 2002 study, as protein intake went up, hydration went down, likely because the body has to use more water to flush out that additional nitrogen. Therefore it’s pertinent to note that dehydration isn't necessarily a reason to avoid extra protein as long as water intake is increased simultaneously.
In conclusion, as you gear up for your sporting goals, do spare a moment to take a deeper look at your protein needs. While carbs are the preferred source of our body fuel, proteins play an absolutely essential part in the energy and muscle preservation needs of an athlete who is mindful of achieving his / her sporting goals... Friends hope you found this edition of my blog useful. Don’t forget to share your comments and feedback with me. Stay fit, Stay Healthy!!
Dr Gitanjali Jaswal Weight Loss I Sports Nutrition I Wellness (+91 9811700268 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
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