Protein is a hot topic among athletes and casual gym-goers. Most of the general population knows that protein is important for the buildup and repair of muscles after a workout. It may seem like the more protein, the better but that may not always be the case. There could be consequences to consuming too much.
First things first: how much protein should athletes be consuming? The answer depends on the type of activity. Below are the recommendations for each type of athlete.
- Endurance athletes should consume about 1.3g of protein per kg of weight per day. An endurance athlete is someone who is performing a cardio-based physical activity at a moderate to high intensity for 60 minutes or longer. An example would be someone running 10 miles per day at a 6-minute mile.
- Resistance athletes should consume about 1.6g of protein per kg of weight per day. Resistance athletes would include professional power lifters.
- General population of gym-goers need approximately 1.1g of protein per kg of weight per day.
NOTE: These calculations are meant to be used for your body weight in kilograms. How do you figure that out? Just divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 then use that number to estimate your protein needs.
So, what happens if you consume too much protein?
More protein does not necessarily mean more muscle. The body is only able to absorb 20g of protein at one time, so what happens to the extra protein that gets ingested? Protein does contain calories and when there is more than the body can metabolize, the body either converts it to fat for storage or it is excreted in the urine. In short, consuming too much protein can cause an increase in fat, not an increase in muscle mass, and that is the last thing most athletes want.
Not only is weight gain a possible consequence of over-consumption of protein, but protein also tends to leave a person feeling full. This can help a person not eat as much overall and aid in weight loss, but it could also cause a decrease in consumption of carbohydrates and good fats, which are important parts of a balanced diet.
The bottom line: protein is needed by athletes and physically active individuals. It aids in muscle repair and maintenance after workouts. It’s important to remember more is not always better. Keep protein near the recommended amounts for the specified type of exercise and consume about 20g of protein per meal and snack.
Contributed by Nicole Kresak, Dietetics student
Rizzo, N. (2016, January 18). Protein Myths and Realities. Retrieved from http://scandpg.blogspot.com/2016/01/protein-myths-and-realities.html
Van De Walle, G. (2013, December 04). Muscle Protein Synthesis: Protein Consumption. Retrieved from http://scandpg.blogspot.com/2013/12/muscle-protein-synthesis-protein.html