Workout couple

Protein – The Tower of Strength

By Louise Du Plessis

 

The importance of protein in athletic performance is a hot debated topic! Should we have more if we exercise more, or do we just keep on eating the same amount? Will it really cause greater muscle mass and a leaner more defined physique?

 

Why do we need protein?

Protein makes up part of the structure of every cell in the body, and is necessary for the growth and formation of new tissues, and also for repairing of damaged tissues.   Proteins are constantly being broken down and re-built in every cell.

 

Does protein provide energy?

Protein does provide some energy, yielding 4kcal/g, which is the same as carbohydrates. However, it’s more difficult for the body to convert protein into energy, than to just use carbohydrates.   When glycogen stores are low, then protein will be used to provide energy but at the cost of other tissues, which over time can lead to loss of lean body mass.

 

How much protein do you need?

The amount required is determined by your size… so the larger you are the greater your protein requirements.  The general recommendation is 0.8g/kg/day for sedentary adults.

 

Protein requirements does increase if you are more active, however varies according to the type of exercise, your body weight, your goals (weight loss or weight gain), your intensity and age.

 

Science recommends:

 

Recreational athletes – 1.1-1.4g/kg

Endurance athletes – 1.2-1.3g/kg

Strength/Power athletes – 1.4-1.7g/kg

 

For example, if you are a female endurance athlete weighing 60kg, then your recommended protein intake is between 72 – 78g/kg/day.

 

The General rule: The more hours you train and the greater the intensity the more protein is required because protein is broken down during exercise.

 

It’s important to note that a high protein diet alone will not lead to any increase in strength or muscle size.  It is only when combined with resistance exercise that additional protein will allow this to happen.

 

When should I eat protein?

Before, during and after exercise, small quantities of protein and carbohydrate should be consumed to speed your recovery.

 

Below are a few commonly consumed foods with their protein content and calories, to give an idea about how much protein we can obtain through dietary intake.

 

We are all individual and have individual needs and requirements, therefore it is important that you know your body and what It needs during certain times of the day, taking into account your activity levels of that particular day.

 

Protein Content of Foods

 

Meat, Poultry and Eggs:

 

Food (Cooked) Serving Size Calories Protein(g)
Chicken, skinless 30g 141 28
Steak 30g 158 26
Turkey, roasted 30g 135 25
Lamb 30g 172 23
Eggs 1 egg 71 6

 

Seafood:

 

Food (cooked) Serving Size  Calories Protein(g)
Salmon 30g 155 22
Tuna 30g 99 22
Shrimp 30g 101 20
Lobster 30g 76 16
Scallops 30g 74 14

 

Legumes, Grains, Vegetables:

 

Food Cooked Serving size (cup) Calories Protein(g)
Pinto Beans ½ 197 11
Adzuki Beans ½ 147 9
Lentils ½ 101 9
Edamame ½ 95 9
Black Beans ½ 114 8
Red Kidney Beans ½ 112 8
Chick Peas ½ 134 7
Black Eyed Peas ½ 100 7
Lima Beans ½ 105 6
Quinoa ½ 111 4
Green Peas ½ 59 4
Spinach ½ 41 3

 

 

Nuts and Seeds:

 

Food Serving Size Calories Protein (g)
Soy Nuts 30g 120 12
Pumpkin Seeds 30g 159 9
Peanuts 30g 166 7
Peanut Butter 1 Tablespoon 188 7
Almonds 30g 163 6
Pistachios 30g 161 6
Flax Seed 30g 140 6
Sunflower Seeds 30g 140 6
Chia Seeds 30g 138 5
Cashews 30g 162 4

 

Dairy Products:

Food Serving Size Calories Protein (g)
Greek Yogurt 180g 100 18
Cottage Cheese 120g 81 14
Regular Yogurt 1 cup 100 11
Skim Milk 1 cup 86 8
Soy Milk 1 cup 132 8
Mozarella 30g 72 7
Strong Cheese 1 small piece 50 6

 

Information reproduced from Today’s Dietitian http://www.todaysdietitian.com and School of Natural Health Sciences – Sports Nutrition

Louise is a nutritional consultant at THE ROOM as well an ultra-distance runner and a cyclist. She has a BSc. in Dietetics, Masters in Nutrition (specializing in adolescent obesity), and a  Postgraduate diploma in Sports nutrition.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *