Nutrition Information -“Macros” Part II – Protein

KNOWING YOUR “MACROS” – PROTEIN

This information is in an effort to help athletes understand where there calories are coming from. Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats are the nutrients our calories are made up of, and all three play an important, and albeit different role in our nutrition, which impacts both performance and recovery. Athletes should implement this information into their daily nutrition in order to maximize training, and performance in competitions.

WHAT IS PROTEIN?

  • Proteins are often called the “building blocks” of the body.
  • Proteins are made up of combinations of amino acids that serve various functions in the body.
  • Protein is responsible for the repair and building of muscle tissue.
  • Regular protein intake for athletes is essential.

 

HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU REALLY NEED?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 0.7-1.0 grams of protein, per pound of body weight, per day, for athletes wanting to increase lean muscle tissue. (150 pound athlete = 105 – 150 grams of protein per day).

Most nutrition organizations recommend a very modest intake of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, (150 pound person = 54 grams of protein per day). However, these recommendations are for a person that does not participate in training for athletics, which often involves intense resistance training, and increased fatigue of muscle tissues.

While the recommendation for a strength athlete is almost twice the recommendation for a non-athlete, it should be noted that there is a limit to the “more is better” philosophy. While a strength athlete does need more protein in their diet, too much protein that is not used to repair tissue, or converted to energy, will be stored as fat.

WHEN TO CONSUME PROTEIN?

While the total amount of protein you eat in a day certainly impacts your muscle as well as overall health, people also need to pay attention to when they get that protein. The best way to approach protein consumption is to spread it out throughout the day into 4-6 meals. For example if an athlete was consuming 150 grams of protein a day they should spread it out over 5 meals, or about 30 grams per meal.

There is also evidence that supports the need for a fast absorbing protein source around training, due to the timing of the broken down muscle tissue. If an athlete consumes protein regularly throughout the day this should not be an issue, but I would still recommend a protein source within an hour of completing training.

HIGH PROTEIN FOODS:

Fish, 3 oz, 21 grams
Chicken, 3 oz, 21 grams
Turkey, 3 oz, 21 grams
Beef, 3 oz, 21 grams
Milk, 8 oz, 8 grams
Tofu, 3 oz, 15 grams
Yogurt, 8 oz, 8 grams
Cheese, 3 oz, 21 grams
Peanut butter, 2 tbsp, 8 grams
Eggs, 2 large, 13 grams

COMPLETE VS. INCOMPLETE PROTEINS

If you notice, most of our high protein food choices come from animal sources. These are called “Complete Proteins” and contain all 20 amino acids.

There are also plant sources that contain protein: Nuts, Grains, Beans, Vegetables, but these sources are missing one or more amino acids, making them “incomplete proteins.” You can obtain a complete protein by combining two or more incomplete proteins, which lack different amino acids. This becomes very important for vegan/vegetarian athletes, who don’t eat animal products, or if you’re relying on a non-animal source for your protein. An example of two incomplete proteins making a complete protein is peanut butter on wheat bread.

PROTEIN – ENERGY PROFILE

1 gram of Protein = 4 calories

You should not rely on protein as a primary energy source. Protein’s primary job is to rebuild and repair broken down muscle tissue. It can only do that or be converted to energy, not both.

Protein can and will provide energy to the body, but does not provide energy in as efficient of a way as either carbohydrates or fats do.

However, if the body’s glycogen stores begin to empty, due to lack of carbohydrate consumption, proteins take over as the body’s secondary source of energy. When this happens there is no nutrient left to repair or build muscle tissue.

Without proper carbohydrate consumption, to fill glycogen stores and fuel workouts, protein becomes useless for muscle growth.

 

WHERE DOES THE PROTEIN I CONSUME END UP?

Simply put, protein will end up being used for 3 things:

  • Rebuild/Repair muscle tissue: this happens by consuming the right amount of protein and other nutrients at the right times while following a resistance training program. This is what we want.
  • Converted into energy: this happens when we do not have enough carbohydrates to support the intensity of training being performed. This is not ideal because protein becomes used as an energy source, instead of repairing muscles.
  • Converted into fat: this happens when we consume too much protein.

EXAMPLE PROTEIN CONSUMPTION THROUGHOUT THE DAY:

BODY WEIGHT: 150 Pounds

Daily grams of Protein: (0.8 g / lb) 120 grams

Meals

Breakfast:  20g (3 eggs)

Lunch: 20g (3 oz Turkey Breast)

Pre-workout snack: 20g (Yogurt & Almonds)

Post- workout snack: 20g (Milk- 8oz and Peanut Butter- 2tbsp)

Post- workout meal: 20g (3oz Chicken)

Dinner: 20g (3oz Fish or Beef)