As an athlete, you know that nutrition plays an important role in your overall performance. You also know that in order to reach the ranks of the elites, you need to do everything in your power to perform at your best, during game day and every day.
An integral part of sports nutrition is macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein), which provide our bodies with the fuel they need to perform. Each one plays a unique, but equally important role in nourishing your body. However, today we are going to focus on protein, which many of you will know as the building block of muscle.
Importance of Protein
Protein is the major functional and structural component of all the cells of the body. It helps to build not only muscle, but also hair, skin, and nails. Clearly, protein is extremely important for all individuals, but as an athlete, it can also help to optimize training and speed up recovery.
If you participate in mild or short-duration exercise, protein won’t be a primary fuel for you, but as the duration of your exercise increases, protein can help to maintain your blood glucose levels. Additionally, most athletes work to build muscle in order to have an athletic advantage when playing their sport of choice. Protein plays an integral role in building and repairing muscle and is therefore essential for athletes.
Net Protein Balance
As mentioned above, many athletes require a significant amount of lean muscle mass in order to excel in their sport. When working towards growth and/or maintenance of muscle mass, muscle protein synthesis must be greater than muscle protein breakdown. The difference between protein synthesis and protein breakdown is known as net protein balance. Adequate amounts of protein consumption are required to achieve a positive net protein balance, which eventually results in muscle growth.
Therefore, you must be consuming enough dietary protein for muscle protein synthesis to be equal to or greater than muscle protein breakdown, which occurs during exercise. From this, we can conclude that athletes who are highly active will require more protein in order to maintain or grow their muscle mass.
Protein requirements are different for everyone and depend on variables such as height, weight, age, and physical activity levels. The RDA for protein is currently 0.8 g per kg of bodyweight each day. This recommendation is supposed to be accurate for 90-98% of all healthy adults. But for you as an athlete who participates in vigorous activity frequently, it may not be enough.
For endurance athletes, we recommend 1.2 g – 1.4 g per kg of bodyweight each day. For resistance-trained athletes, we recommend 1.6 – 1.7 g per kg of bodyweight each day.
Get Enough Protein
Now that you know the importance of protein, and how much protein your body requires each day, you might be wondering how will you ever meet this amount? But don’t worry, meeting your daily protein requirements can be easier than expected.
Start your day with a protein-packed smoothie, fill your plate with lean meats, such as chicken or turkey, and snack on high-protein options like hard boiled eggs.
If you aren’t able to get the protein that you need in a day from your food alone, you can supplement your diet with protein from Bodylogix®. With options such as Vegan Protein, Natural Whey and Whey Isolate, you’ll be sure to find your perfect protein supplement.