May 2, 2011

Pumping up on Protein


With all the training we’ve been doing lately for our Dragonboat National Titles I noticed some of our team mates have been using the supplements from those giant tins you see in the supplement stores. As an amateur sportsperson maybe you’ve used them. But how do you know if you need protein supplements?

While a meal replacement that contains carbohydrate and other nutrients as well as protein can be part of a well-balanced diet when you’re training, it’s a good idea to know how much protein you need to eat so that you’re not wasting time and money pumping up on unnecessary extra protein.


Protein – what’s it good for?

Protein foods are an important part of everyone’s diet because they are used by the body to make a whole range of metabolic essentials like hormones and immune cells as well as muscle cells.

The more exercise you get, the more protein you need in your diet. This is because the protein is used to fuel exercise and to help repair and grow muscle after exercise. If you exercise regularly you’ll need around 1g of protein each day per kilo of body weight. Athletes need more protein, between 1.2 and 2.0g per kilo.


So a 85kg (187 pound) man exercising regularly will need 85g of protein but if he took up athletic level training he may need between 102
– 170g of protein each day. Most athletes eat more when they are in training and it has been shown that they actually eat enough protein-rich foods to get the extra protein they need with 3 meals and snacks each day.

Eating enough protein for athletic training doesn’t mean eating steak 4 times a day. Other foods that are good sources of protein include milk, yoghurt and cheese, eggs, nuts and legumes (baked beans, lentils, kidney beans, tofu). Cereal based foods like bread, pasta and breakfast cereal all contain some protein as well.


A typical day for our 85kg athlete in training might look like this:
Pre training snack: Glass of low fat milk ............... 10g
Breakfast:
2 cups cereal with
low fat milk .............................. 15g
2 pieces of wholegrain toast with jam .....................10g
Snack: Banana smoothie with yoghurt ....................15g
Lunch: Ham, cheese and salad roll ........................ 30g
Snack: Chocolate milk & Cereal bar........................ 17g
Post triaining snack: Mixed nuts & sports drink ........12g
Dinner:
Beef, veg and kidney bean bolognaise sauce.............30g
2 cups pasta ...................................................... 10g
Apple crumble with low fat custard ......................... 9g

Total 158g protein (1.85g / kg)

Before you mix up that ‘Mega-supa-muscle-enhancing shake’ providing large amounts of protein just remember that eating any more protein than 2g/kg/day will not build new muscle tissue. Your body will just use the extra protein for energy and you may be eating so much protein you miss out on other important nutrients. Protein-rich foods provide a range of nutrients not found in supplements including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.



Reducing the aches and pains after training

If you are training for an event, timing when you eat is as important as how much you eat. To help fuel exercise and aid recovery, eat a carbohydrate snack with 10-20g of protein before and after (within 15 – 60 minutes) training sessions.

Some examples of snacks for pre and post training:
  • 375mL low-fat chocolate milk and a banana (14g protein)
  • Small tub of yogurt and fruit (11g protein)
  • Peanut butter and jam wholegrain sandwich (14g protein)
  • 60g mixed nuts and dried fruit (12g protein)

So, do I need a supplement?

You don't need a supplement to get enough protein. However, if you like the convenience of a liquid snack,
choose a meal replacement that has both carbohydrate and protein as well as some vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium.


If you are training for an event and would like more advice on maximizing the benefit of the foods you eat during training and competition, contact a sports dietitian. Contacts can be found on my links page.
Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Protein is a series of amino acids linked together like a chain. The links that hold these amino acids together are known as peptide links. Amino acids are the primary source for nitrogen in the body. Having a positive nitrogen balance is essential for proper muscle growth and repair.

    ReplyDelete