There’s a lot of “bro science” out there when it comes to protein ingestion. Specifically in regard to how many grams of protein are actually needed by an active individual/athlete. Depending on who you ask, from random websites to textbooks, you can find a wide variety of numbers all claiming to be the ideal amount protein for reasons X, Y, and Z. On the video below, Mark Glazier Discusses what would be the ideal amount of protein for various level athletes/individuals.
According to the ISSN, a sedentary individual requires approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. An elite level strength training athlete requires a minimum of double this amount, needing approximately 1.6 grams to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. These athletes could be football, baseball, or lacrosse athletes, all of whom participate in a sport where both power, and strength are often of utmost importance. An endurance athlete will have slightly lower protein needs in a range of 1 gram to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. These athletes will include cyclists, marathoners, distance runners, any sport involving long duration, and continuous movement. An intermittent sport athlete requires slightly more protein than an endurance athlete with a range of 1.4 grams to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
Consuming the proper amount of protein requires both the athletes and the coaching staff to use a fair amount of discernment. All of these categories of protein needs involve continuums in which the athlete can fall anywhere. For example the range of protein for a strength training athlete is 1.6 to 2 g/kg- bw. If that athlete is training exceptionally hard and consistently putting in 100% effort, then they likely need to be near the top of the continuum. This makes a large difference when we are talking about larger sized athletes. A 240lb athlete training hard would need approximately 218 grams of protein to be at the top of the continuum. If they’re eating at the lower end (1.6 g/kg-bw) they’re only consuming 175 grams, which is 43 grams and nearly 20% lower than what is ideal. Meaning if an athlete honestly feels they are putting everything into their training they need to step up their nutrition game as well. That being said individuals who are slacking off at practice, conditioning, and strength training sessions all need to be honest with themselves and say maybe I don’t need to be consuming 40 extra grams of protein and instead of stuffing their faces should try and figure out a way to get moving and get motivated.
The importance of these numbers is that they can help us to make sure our athletes remain in a positive nitrogen balance. As training intensity goes up so do energy needs, and with that comes a greater utilization of proteins as fuels. Obviously the more proteins are broken down the more athletes need to consume to ensure that not only are they being replaced, but that they are supplying the body with adequate proteins for building, allowing for increases in strength and athletic performance.
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