Ask the Experts: Do some athletes need more protein than others?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2012, 12:42pm


Q: Do some athletes need more protein than others?

A: Just as children have high protein needs during growth periods (1.3 grams of protein per kilogram), athletes also have requirements higher than the recommended daily allowance (0.8 grams per kg) when building muscles: 1.2 grams per kg for endurance athletes and 1.7 grams per kg for strength athletes.

These protein recommendations assume the athlete is consuming adequate energy from carbohydrates and fat. Athletes who restrict their food intake end up using some protein for fuel, thus they need a higher protein intake.

Most athletes consume about 1.6 grams of protein per kg per day, so they easily meet the recommendations - without the addition of supplements.

The biggest way to stimulate muscular growth is to lift weights or do other forms of resistance exercise. To support muscular development after hard lifting, all athletes need to consume high-quality protein (with all the essential amino acids) in close proximity to their training. High-quality proteins include whole milk products, poultry, eggs, fish, lean beef, all meats and soy protein.

Nancy Clark is a sports nutritionist and a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the US. Reprinted with permission from the American College of Sports Medicine Fit Society Page