In the sporting world protein is known predominantly for driving muscle repair and growth. Protein however, is also essential to every cell in our body as they make enzymes, hormones, bones, skin and blood. Protein is found in foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts, tofu, and legumes but are also readily available in drinks, bars and powders.
Amount of Protein for Athletes
Intakes for the general healthy population are at 0.8 grams (g) per kilogram (kg) of bodyweight (bwt). For athletes depending on their sport intakes range between 1.4-2g/kg/bwt. Although high protein diets are commonly discussed and pursued, intakes above 2g/kg/bwt have shown to be unnecessary, with no further increase of protein turnover (muscle growth).
Timing Protein Intake
Protein is important for recovery after training sessions or events to drive adaptations. Although it is important to consume quality protein after a workout, your body remains sensitive to nutrition 24-48 hours after exercise – therefore we need to think beyond the ’30-minute protein window’.
Evidence also shows that 20g of protein is most effective in ‘turning on’ protein synthesis which helps build muscle, again with further intakes not increasing effectiveness. For this reason, a good aim is to get 20-30g protein in per meal across the day when wanting to increase muscle mass rather than large doses around training.
Do You Need Protein Supplements?
It can be confusing with the vast variety of protein supplements on the market. Some being in isolation, some mixed with carbohydrate or other sporting aids such as creatine, L-carnitine, vitamins and minerals. Depending on your needs and goals it can be difficult to know which one is for you or if they are even necessary.
Some supplements are mixed with additional sugars or sweeteners for taste and palatability so apart from protein, may not have much else to offer and can be quite expensive. On the other hand, supplements can be good in situations where there is no time to fit in a meal. For example: a protein shake can be a great way to meet your nutritional needs when there is no time for a meal between a gym session and work but if you have time to go home and enjoy an omelette on toast providing the same amount of protein and additional nutrients, which would you prefer?
It is important to note that there are various high protein foods out there that also provide additional macro and micronutrients and most of the time cost less. The bottom line is that it comes down to goals, availability, preference and time which can change over a day, week or month!
Sports Dietitian’s are experts in assisting you make these decisions and put personalised plans in place, so you are able to meet your goals and break through some of the confusion out there.
Book an appointment at Coast Sport by calling (02) 4356 2588 or book online via the button below.
Thanks to Coast Sport Dietitian Ali for preparing this blog. Find out more about Dietitian Ali here.