Athletes need higher amounts of protein than your average individual, and there are a few solid reasons why. Protein is a key component of muscles, and necessary to build and maintain them in a healthy way. Also, protein is important in recovering your muscles, and repairing them after exercise and training. However, various types of athletes have different protein requirements, depending on certain factors including their weight and their intentions for their training.
On average: endurance athletes need approximately 0.55g of protein per pound, in comparison to strength athletes at 0.75g per pound. However, all athletes must balance out their protein intakes with the healthy, advised amounts of carbohydrates and fats in their diets. If an athlete were to restrict the other parts of their diet, and focus solely on high protein, then it would be counterproductive, as the athlete would start consuming the protein as fuel, rather than turning it into muscle.
Also, the way you intake your protein is important, along with the quantities you are consuming it. Research suggests that the most effective way to consume protein is to spread it out evenly over the day, with 20grams of protein every 3-4 hours being the ideal objective. So it is best to try and incorporate a small amount of protein in every meal, rather than load up on a massive high-protein meal once a day.
We have therefore compiled a list of examples of protein sources that would be beneficial to your training as an athlete:
1 – Grilled Chicken Breast
This skinless grilled chicken breast is one of the best sources of good protein for athletes. This food contains very little fat or carbohydrates, but contains approximately 27g of protein. Grilled chicken also contains all of your body’s essential amino acids, which your body needs daily.
2 – Fish
Fish is a great example of a low-fat protein source. Although, when consuming fish for your healthy protein needs, it is best to bake or grill the fish, rather than frying it or coating it in breadcrumbs. It is also important to consider the different kinds of fish, and how it can impact your diet. However, on average, a 3-ounce portion of cooked salmon contains 22g of protein.
3 – Eggs, particularly Egg Whites
Eggs have received a bad reputation because of their high cholesterol content, although for people who consume eggs regularly, the cholesterol in eggs does not increase their overall levels. In fact, a single egg contains 6g of protein, and 5 large egg whites contain an approximate 18g of protein. Asides from protein, eggs are also a good source of amino acids.
4 – Soy
Soy is possibly the best plant source of protein, which offers a solid vegetarian alternative to satisfying your protein requirements. There are many ways that you can incorporate protein-rich soy into your diet, including tofu, soymilk and soy-based yoghurts, and soy burgers and meat replacements. These all have variable good amounts of protein, beneficial for athletes.
5 – Roasted Turkey Breast
Turkey is one of the essential foods for athletes, as it is one of the main sources of good protein. On average, a 3-ounce serving of roasted turkey supplies 24g of high-quality protein. Additionally, turkey is a brilliant source of vitamins, including B6, niacin and selenium.
By making sure to intake good quality amounts of protein, you are treating your body right. An athlete needs essential high-protein foods, but also the quality and timing is important to remember when you are satisfying your protein needs.