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Do You Really Need More Protein?

by Bea | October 15th, 2015 | Diet Strategy, Workout Fuel
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome people say that athletes need more protein. Okay, so that is true, but it is a little misleading. Athletes need more protein, but just as much as they need more carbohydrates and fat. This is because more calories are burned. So, before you go ahead and chug those protein shakes, be sure to balance your diet. Overwhelming yourself with protein is not healthy either. It certainly will not make your workout better!

Many inexperienced no-meat athletes run the risk of getting protein the wrong way. They believe that because they are not eating meat, they should up their protein intake by using smoothies and shakes. There are a lot better ways to get protein, especially through plant foods! The best protein is, in fact, abundant in plant foods! However, the same can be said about meat eating athletes who think that the best way to bulk up is to stock up on protein powder before and after their workout.

First, you should figure out just how much protein your body needs before stuffing yourself with more calories than your body can handle. Eating more protein than you need will only mean that it will be stored inefficiently The Dietary Reference Intake in the United States is that you should have about 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. After doing some math, this should come out to be about 10-15 percent of your total calorie intake because each gram of protein has about four calories in it. This should be easy to do. If you are training for an Ironman or something that demands a  high calorie intake, then you should be eating more protein. Many suggest that you should up your protein intake from 0.8 grams to 1 – 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight.

If you eat a variety of foods, then you should be fine and you should not need to get supplements. This can be achieved by eating oatmeal, bagels, bread, beans, tofu, broccoli, rice, almonds, peanut butter, potatoes, lentils, bulgur, and more. Quinoa, peas, tempeh,  nuts, spinach, and more, are also protein packed and delicious to eat.

Rather than focusing on the word protein, think about what proteins actually are, amino acids. There are many different types of amino acids and they support a variety of roles from muscle development to metabolism and more. There are nine essential amino acids, and these are needed to make protein. Some people are really into thinking about the amino acids and making foods that are low on one amino acid with foods that are high on another amino acid, but I personally feel like this is a lot of thinking. Just enjoy your food, but do it with smarts. You can get a great workout in without the protein shakes.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.