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  • Writer's pictureStefanie Rock

How much protein do you really need?

It's undeniable that protein is essential for athletes. But how important is it? If we believe the marketing hype, protein should dominate an athlete's every meal and snack...

but, unfortunately, that's a popular myth.

True, protein is essential for virtually every chemical reaction within in the body. It plays a crucial role in

  • regulating hormones

  • repairing muscle

  • muscle growth

  • bone growth

  • transporting oxygen

  • transporting nutrients

  • and strengthening immunity

But notice what's missing from the list? Energy.

Protein is already so busy transporting, regulating, repairing, and strengthening that it doesn't want the added responsibility of creating energy.

Don't get me wrong, it will do the job... but reluctantly. It's slow and inefficient because it's already wearing so many job hats.

Think of protein as an athlete's helmet: damn important, but it's not necessarily going to help them skate faster. It's role isn't to re-energize- that's its friend carbohydrates' job.

But what about all of the "high protein" shakes, powders, bars, and drinks? Unfortunately, much of it is marketing bs.

Though protein is one of the three nutrients that the body needs in large (aka "Macro") amounts, the actual number is based off two main factors: that specific day's activity level and weight.

And, consuming more than daily needs doesn't get stored in the body as energy reserves the way carbohydrates or fats do. Often- it just becomes really expensive pee.

Slow recovery. Frequent injuries. Fatigue. Low endurance. All may be signs that an athlete's protein intake is out of proportion with their other macronutrient needs.

I know, I know.... what about all of those post-workout protein powders and drinks we see everywhere (I won't get started here on the risks of them for growing bodies)? Sadly, it's really effective marketing. When protein is consumed during the day is less important than meeting the daily needs. The immediate post-workout window is about replenishing spent carbohydrates.

The great news? Most athletes- even particular eaters and vegetarians- can meet their protein needs during the day with real foods.

Wondering if your athlete is getting too much or not enough protein? Struggling to fuel particular eaters? Contact me HERE or download Fuel Their Game to learn more about macronutrients and meal timing.


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