Do athletes need more protein?

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is 0.8g/kg of body weight per day for adult men and women. This number is based on what the body needs to maintain a positive nitrogen balance; a negative nitrogen balance means that muscle is being broken down to be used as energy (not ideal since we have fat and carbohydrates for energy). But recently there have been many studies — doctors and nutritionists brought  to light that to simply maintain nitrogen balance is not optimal for good health, therefore, making the RDA just the bare minimum for all adults.

bikingAthletes have an extraordinary demand for energy, especially those who participate in long-duration activities such as practices lasting over two hours at any given time. Once other sources of energy are used up, bodies start to break down muscle protein for energy, resulting in a negative nitrogen balance. Most athletes already have changed their intake to adapt to a higher protein need, but what about adults who exercise 2-4 times per week, giving about an hour to each session? They aren’t necessarily your description of competitive athletes, people entering races and challenges; rather they are exercising for health, as a hobby and just for fun.  Do they also need higher levels of protein? The answer is yes! Some suggest that “recreational athletes” should aim for 1.1 to 1.4g/kg. of body weight per day for protein intake, while marathon runners should increase to 1.2 – 2.0 g/kg. of body weight, likewise, per day.

The greater number of hours and intensity of exercise will translate to higher protein needs. That’s not to say you can do itcarbohydrates and fats aren’t also important. They each have a role and are an integral part of an athlete’s diet. It is crucial to consume enough calories to support your body through your personal exercise regimen. There is no indication that a high-protein diet is required; however, maintaining 10% to 35% of your calorie consumption from protein is ideal. Although there is no upper range for protein, it is believed that an intake above 35% of calories coming from protein may be detrimental to health since it will leave the other sources (carbohydrates and fats) below the recommended levels.

joggingThis looks like a good time to remind you that most athletes (professionals included) get a share of their protein intake from nuts and nut butters! They are an easy source of protein and so very versatile to add to your diet and overall routine! Fruit slices with peanut butter, almond butter- based smoothies, or just a tablespoon of Once Again Nut Butter after a workout will do! Whether you work out once a week or every day, Once Again Nut Butter is the perfect fit for you.

… keep active and eat well,


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