Protein is one of our most essential nutrients. Many high school and college athletes believe that athletic performance is improved by a high-protein diet. Companies that market nutritional protein supplements for athletes have capitalized on this belief. It is true that a sufficient amount of dietary protein is required by all individuals, however, advertisers imply that additional protein in the form of protein powders or amino acid supplements is necessary for optimal athletic performance. The National Academy of Sciences has historically indicated that the RDA provides adequate protein to everyone, including athletes.
Some recent studies recommend that athletes in training need to increase their protein intake, however, they also recommend that the protein be derived from natural food sources. Complete proteins are obtained primarily from animal foods; meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. Complete protein means it contains the type and amount of the essential amino acids necessary for maintaining life and promoting growth. They are high-nutrient-density foods, especially if fat content is low to moderate. Because animal protein is of high content, you do not need as much of it to satisfy your RDA. One glass of milk contains 8 grams of protein; about 20% of the RDA for the average male. Eggs are also an excellent source, as they provide 6 grams of protein and produce less nitrogenous waste for the kidneys to process.
To calculate your protein needs, find your weight in kilograms by dividing pounds by 2.2.
Ex: 165 # / 2.2 = 75kg.
Multiply the kg of body weight by the RDA of 0.8 - 1.0 . (75 x 0.8-1.0 = 60-75 grams protein/day)
Both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Dietetic Assoc. recently concluded that very active individuals and resistance athletes require 1.6-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Endurance athletes need approximately 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. Notice that the increase is not as drastic as some supplement labels or muscle magazines claim. Hormones build muscle, not protein.
Most scientists and sports nutritionists recommend a high carbohydrate diet for athletes, particularly endurance athletes. Increased activity levels require more overall calories, in the form of carbohydrates. From the standpoint of of both health and athletic performance, dietary carbohydrate is one of the most important nutrients in your diet. Carbohydrates provide energy to hungry muscles; in the form of glycogen. The brain and nervous system rely primarily on glucose for their metabolism. All body stores of carbohydrate are important for energy production during various forms of exercise.
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