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Proteins for the Athlete or Amateur

Posted Dec 21 2009 10:51am

No one should rely on proteins as their main source of energy...athletes included. Protein is required for the maintenance and repair of muscles, but it doesn't "build up" muscles. Rippling biceps are the result of a balanced diet, adequate hydration, and lots of exercise. Although some sports do require slightly higher levels of protein, only 3 or 4 more ounces a day are needed.  

Most training athletes require 1.4 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, 1.4 gm/kg for endurance training, and up to 1.7 gm/kg for strength training. Therefore, if you weigh 154 pounds and want to figure your protein needs for endurance training, the calculation would be as follows:

154 pounds / 2.2 kg = 70 kg of body weight
70 kg x 1.4 gm/kg = 98 grams of protein needed per day

Remember that protein contains 4 calories per gram, so you would need 382 calories of protein per day.

Your proteins needs for strength training would be as follows:

154 pounds / 2.2 kg = 70 kg of body weight
70 kg x 1.7 = 119 grams of protein need per day, or
476 calories of protein per day
(119 grams x 4 calories/gram protein)

Conversion Factors
1 kilogram (kg) = 2.2 pounds (lbs)
1 gram = 0.035 ounces
Converting Pounds to Kilograms
If you weigh 110 pounds, to convert your weight to kg:
110/lbs / 2.2 lbs = 54 kg 

If you are a weekend warrior, then the protein needs go down to 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. We mere mortals require only about 1 gram of protein per kilogram.

Good sources of protein for an athlete's menu that is not a vegetarian (if you must) include low fat items such as egg white omelets; lean poultry, beef, pork, and veal; pouched, steamed, grilled or broiled (just not fried) seafood; Vegetarian selections for the Athlete (I do recommend) would include nuts; soy products, soy cheeses and tempeh; and all kinds of beans and legumes.

Carefully read the labels of meal replacement fluids or bars to assess the amount of protein they contain.

It is a complete myth that we need a massive amount of protein. Very high-protein diets can be dangerous especially animal protein...can impair our kidneys; leach calcium, zinc, vitamin B, iron, and magnesium from our bodies. Such diets won't add to muscle bulk or improve muscle tone. Many proteins sources come wrapped in animal fat. In addition, eating too much protein encourages the body to get rid of water. Too much protein makes the kidneys work harder and, if done over extended periods of time, can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and obesity. In addition, high amounts of protein can damage our tissues, organs, and cells, contributing to faster aging...not me! Know this: People in other cultures consume half the amount of protein that we do, yet live longer, healthier lives.

Researchers at Harvard found that vegetarians (who don't live on junk food) get adequate amounts of protein in their diets. 

Many famous Athletes are vegetarians; how do they get their protein you ask? Simply. They eat lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whold grains, and soy products (edamame, tofu, imitation cheeses and meats). When you eat well-balanced meals consisting of these foods, you are guaranteed to get sufficient protein. For example if you had a soy burger on a whole grain bun with avocado and tomato and a small side salad, you'd get 22 grams of protein. See how easy? If you want an extra boost, treat yourself to spirulina, a high protein algae that contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, B-12 (important for vegetarians), enzymes, and minerals. It also supports the immune system, fights cancer, and helps with hypoglycemia, anemia, ulcers, diabetes, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Spirulina also contains all nine essential amino acids.

Another Common myth that has since been rebuked is the "food combining" theory. Animal flesh proteins are "complete," meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids in amounts similar to those found in human flesh. Plants have all these amino acids, too, just in slightly different amounts. It was previously believed that in order to create complete proteins from vegetarian foods, you needed to combine them in specific ways to maximize there protein potential. However, it is now known that eating a variety of food from plant sources provides all the building blocks we need, Further, the microorganisms and recycled cells in our intestinal tracts make complete proteins for us. All we have to do is eat healthy, balanced diets.

For information on Fats for the Athlete or Amateur click here

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