ARTICLE 7: PROTEIN NEEDS

In the world of athletics, high protein diets have become increasingly popular.  This trend is directly related to the role protein plays in building muscle mass.   While protein does help promote muscle growth, more is not necessarily better.  Determining protein needs should be based on the athlete’s overall diet and personal needs.

As stated in the previous article (Protein:  The Bodies Building Block), dietary protein is essential for a number of functions in the body.  Protein can be used for energy, but it is not the bodies preferred fuel source.  This role is best filled with carbohydrates.  Athletes consuming a diet adequate in carbohydrates and fat will use less protein for energy.  This saves dietary protein to be utilized in building lean muscle mass and repairing muscle tears following activity.  A diet emphasizing one of the three macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein or fat, over another will not promote long-term success.

Protein recommendations for the non-athlete are between 0.8-1.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.  In general, athletes will require greater amounts of protein than the non-athlete.  However, amounts are not as high as many currently believe.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training regimen (The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). 

General recommendations for soccer players are:

· In-season: 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day

· Out of season:  1.3 grams per kilogram of body weight per day

 For example, an in-season soccer player weighing 150 pounds (68 kilograms) should consume approximately 108-110 grams of protein per day.

 Focus on high-quality proteins (lean meat, eggs, fish, dairy, soy) consumed throughout the day.  Aim for 15-20 grams per snack or meal.  Below are the protein amounts of common high-quality proteins that make a tasty addition to any meal.

 

Food

Serving Size

Protein Content

Fish

3 ounces

21 grams

Chicken

3 ounces

21 grams

Turkey

3 ounces

21 grams

Meat

3 ounces

21 grams

Regular Yogurt

8 ounces

9 grams

Greek Yogurt

8 ounces

18 grams

Peanut Butter

2 tbsp

8 grams

Eggs

2 large

14 grams

Low Fat Cheese

3 ounces

9 grams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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