Protein Requirements for Athletes

The latest edition of the NSCA's Performance Training Journal details some protein pointers that will be of interest to strength and endurance athletes alike. A position statement from the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day for inactive individuals. That's a 74 gram daily allotment of protein for a healthy couch potato aged 19+ years who weighs 185 pounds. As a point of reference, a typical skinless chicken breast contains around 27 grams of protein.

But this modest amount of protein probably isn't enough to offset the oxidation of protein and amino acids that occurs when active individuals exercise. This can leave you with a negative nitrogen balance which, in turn, can promote catabolism and delay muscle recovery. The article recommends between 0.7 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day for strength athletes (130 to 167 grams of protein for a 185 pound adult), and 0.6 to 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day for endurance athletes (111 to 130 grams of protein for our 185 pound example).

The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends whole foods as your primary source of amino acids from proteins. Both whey and casein were named as supplemental options. Whey protein has been shown to rapidly increase blood amino acids making it ideal for use post-workout. Casein protein promotes a prolonged amino acid increase that can be sustained for up to 7 hours making it better suited to periods when nutrition won't be available for some time, like just before going to sleep.

True Strength Moment: While these protein requirements might seem high or low depending on your body type, diet program and goals, keep in mind that they are intended to be used as average 'ballpark' amounts which can apply to any type of active individual. You should adjust the recommendations to fit your own unique metabolic rate, training routine and goals. Use them as a starting point for realizing your True Strength.
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