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Protein for Optimal Performance

Jefferey Morgan provides an insight into how much protein an athlete needs for optimal performance.

Whether you are lifting weights, doing cardio, running marathons, or swimming, athletes waste a lot more energy than the average individual who only works out once in a while. The body of an athlete demands extra nutrients to be able to recover from intense physical activity. Protein is fundamental as it strengthens the muscles and helps repair damaged muscle tissue. Athletes are well-aware of how important high protein diets are; particularly those that seek to have a defined, leaner physique. But what is the exact amount their bodies need to attain optimal performance?

Quality overcomes quantity

Even though it is very important to focus on foods rich in protein when the goal is to build more muscle mass, but that does not necessarily mean that quantity is the key to attaining that goal. A toned body is not achieved by simply eating large portions of protein-rich foods. Prior to determining protein ratio requirements, you have to assess your diet. Proteins are all about helping the body build and maintain lean muscle mass. For optimal performance, it is very important that you include healthy fats and carbs into your diet.

Exercise and protein intake

The only way to build muscle is to combine proper exercise with a nutrient-rich diet. Foods like eggs, meat, and dairy should be consumed after 2 hours of completing a workout routine. This boosts the chances of growing muscle while repairing damaged tissue. Unlike endurance athletes, power athletes demand an increased amount of proteins. As their workout routine becomes more intense, the efficiency of their body to use protein increases.

Unlike those that have a sedentary lifestyle, athletes need more proteins. The amount depends on several key factors: current body weight, type of activity performed, intensity level, overall energy intake, weight gain or weight loss, training status, and age. In general, power athletes should consume 1.7 g of protein per kg of body weight; endurance athletes should stick to 1.4 g of protein per kg. When you begin a type of training that emphasizes on endurance, you should know that in the first two weeks, your protein requirements may increase due to a negative nitrogen balance. This happens because your muscles need protein to be able to sustain new muscle growth.

The body needs about 2 weeks to adapt, and then you may be required to decrease consuming a lot of foods rich in proteins. To keep muscle protein protected, it might be a good idea to increase protein intake if you decide to begin a new training program.

Types of protein

For optimal performance, athletes are advised to focus on high-quality protein varieties. Casein, milk-derived whey protein, and proteins from soy and egg whites render essential amino acids. These are used by the muscles to optimize muscle protein synthesis and nitrogen balance. As far as protein supplements are concerned, experts argue that they’re not required if you get all the amount of protein that your body needs from food. Proteins are fundamental in active people who exercise regularly, as well as in athletes. But should they focus solely on a high-protein diet? There have been many concerns expressed regarding the potential side effects of too much protein-powered foods. Nonetheless, as long as you do not exceed the average amount recommended, you should be on the safe side.

An individualized nutrition plan has to be developed following several key aspects: overall health of the athletes, training regimen per week, and type of foods consumed on a daily basis. Whole foods are the best because they provide complete nutrition. Due to their high intake of essential fiber and macronutrients, the body feels full and energized for extended periods of time.

Fish, turkey, eggs, low-fat milk, chicken breast, vegetables, and fruits are fundamental foods you have to include into your daily diet if you want to boost endurance level and muscle mass. However before getting started, it might be a good idea to consult with a nutritionist. After a series of blood tests, a specialist will tell you exactly what your body needs to build muscle mass the healthy way. He may or may not recommend you supplementation (such as whey protein powder or beta alanine) but that should not concern you because athletes have different body types; some people function perfectly on protein-based foods and healthy fats.


Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work then the reference for this page is:

  • MORGAN, J. (2017) Protein for Optimal Performance [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article227.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Jefferey Morgan has an in depth knowledge of health and fitness and enjoys writing his own articles on these topics.

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