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Do Athletes Need More Proteins Than the Rest of Us?


The answer is yes, but that’s only due to their regimented training schedules, and their additional requirement is approximately an extra 0.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day.


Once your muscles have energy available to them, what determines the type of fuel they use? You do, to an extent, depending on how physically fit you are and how hard you perform. Physical fitness – defined as the ability to perform moderate-to-vigorous activities without undue fatigue – affects your fuel use. Diet also has an effect.

Does This Mean That We Use Protein to Fuel Activity?

Muscle food protein products can be used for fuelling muscles, but in most circumstances protein contributes only about 6% of the body’s general needs. This is also true for the typical energy needs of exercising muscles. However, proteins can contribute significantly to energy needs in endurance exercise, perhaps as much as 15%, especially as carbohydrates stored in the muscles are exhausted. We easily eat enough to supply this amount of fuel. Protein or amino acid supplements are usually not necessary. Contrary to what many athletes believe, protein is used less for fuel in resistance types of exercises such as weightlifting than for endurance exercises such as running. The primary fuels for weightlifting are phosphocreatine (PCr) and carbohydrates.

Muscle-Bulking Diets

In the course of muscle-building routines, any athlete is advised to consume about 1-1.5 grams of extra protein on a per-kilogram basis (0.5-0.7 g/lbs) of bodyweight. Such a range is just a little higher than double the protein RDA (0.8 g/kg of wanted bodyweight). Anyone who eats a variety of foods can easily meet a higher intake. For example, a 53kg woman can take close to her upper range of 80 grams of protein just by eating 4 ounces of chicken breast and 3 ounces of beef (like that of a burger) and by drinking 3 glasses of milk every single day. Take note that this does not even include the protein from grains or even the vegetables. A 77kg man needs only to consume a 6-ounce chicken breast and a 6-ounce can of tuna and drink 3 glasses of milk in a day to reach close to his upper range of 115 grams of protein. Many athletes eat many more protein-rich foods to meet their energy needs. Again, we see that protein supplements are not needed for athletes because their diets typically exceed even the most generous protein recommendation.

Athletes who either feel they must significantly limit their energy intake or are vegetarians should determine how much protein they eat; they should make sure it equals at least 1 gram per kilogram of desirable bodyweight. Skimping on protein is not a good idea, especially when following a strict training regimen. Furthermore, protein is required to repair muscles that are damaged during workouts.


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