Eating for Performance (Basics- Protein)

Many athletes consider protein to the most important nutrient for success. As discussed previously, I believe carbohydrates are the most important macronutrient for performance and see too many athletes consuming excess protein (beyond what is ideal) leading to limiting the intake of other essential nutrients that are critical to high level performance.

 

To contradict that point, I also see too many athletes consuming far less than ideal protein, which is generally worse for performance than consuming too much. 🤯

 

Protein is essential and the right amounts are needed for brain health, muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, hair, nails, hormones, hemoglobin, blood, and much more so it is crucial to get the minimum requirements for performance but also keeping in mind that you will want to stay under the maximum recommended amounts to MAXIMIZE your nutrition plan.

 

 

Protein demand for performance is primarily dictated by these 3 factors

 

1️⃣             Muscle damage created during exercise resulting in increased protein requirements for tissue repair.

 

2️⃣             The amount of protein used for energy rises as muscle glycogen decreases.   (Utilizing proteins for fuel is not ideal). I consider it wasteful, and your body loses excess water in this process as well. This point makes the case for pre and intra workout carbohydrates even more valuable.

 

3️⃣             Weight of the athlete (most of the world uses KGs… I will use LBs)

 

 

 

 

🚨🚨The amount of protein required to maintain proper nitrogen balance in performance nutrition should be between .8 and 1 gram per pound of bodyweight and fall between 15-20% of TOTAL daily calories. 🚨🚨

 

This number is based on the assumption that ideal carbohydrate and fat intake has been achieved. 👍

 

 

 

Circling back to Marisa’s ❤️ numbers.

 

We have her total daily carbohydrates during performance training cycles at 55-65% total daily calories.

 

We have her total protein at 15-20% total daily calories.

 

Her daily average is roughly 1,900 calories at body weight 107 lbs.

 

Current macro goals:

 

Carbs – 285 grams (60%) (minimum)

 

Protein – 85 grams (18%)

 

Fats – (% will fill in the remainder of calories- which we will discuss in our next post)

 

 

Let’s take a moment to hold up because this is going to take a bit of explaining…

 

Reminder: this series is about PERFORMANCE nutrition. Not gaining muscle, burning fat, building a bigger chest, or fixing your health.

 

I am aware that most Instagram models, bodybuilders, high school heroes who no longer exercise who know all the answers etc. will have mixed advice on macro amounts. It’s all fun and games until you’re getting smoked at the competition.

 

In other words… “If you’re eating like an Instagram model you’re going to get smoked at the competition.” 🐒🐒🐒

 

The main reason behind this is…

 

🔥 If you are eating more than your bodyweight in protein, I am willing to bet you are not eating enough carbohydrates and likely too much fat to perform at 100% in the sport. 🔥

 

More muscle does not necessarily mean more strength. I believe many fitness athletes get confused because they follow the advice of bodybuilders (who generally consume more protein than most athletes) and feel like that will help their performance. Strength and power are performance-based goals that requires adequate fuel (carbs) and should not be confused with hypertrophy and eating for aesthetics or “gaining.”

 

Prioritizing mirror gainz over performance gainz will come in our EATING FOR BODY COMPOSITION discussion.

 

Lastly, there is an idea that high amounts of protein must be consumed in a magical post workout “anabolic window.” Listen, I know it sounds cool and many people can benefit from protein shakes post workout.

 

I also believe athletes should consume some protein post workout but the most valuable tool post workout for performance is…. drum roll… glycogen replenishment. Which, as previously discussed will come from carbohydrates and fluids.    🧃💦

 

Note: I did not make the above statement to deter protein use post workout. I am encouraging athletes focused on performance to consume protein WITH carbohydrates and never alone for enhanced muscle protein synthesis and to replenish depleted glycogen stores.

 

 

 

 

📝Key notes regarding protein for performance: 📝

 

1.)           1 gram of protein = 4 calories which is the same as carbohydates per gram.

 

2.)           Protein requirements for those who exercise is nearly double that of sedentary people. The general food recommendations should never be applied for performance nutrition.

 

3.)           The liver is the central processing unit for protein synthesis. If you have elevated liver enzymes on a blood panel, you could research ways to cleanse and improve those numbers to help utilize proteins and for general overall well-being.

 

4.)           Vegan athletes should consider supplementing the essential amino acid L-Leucine as well as many other nutrients we will discuss in the future.

 

5.)           Whey protein and essential amino acid supplements appear to be the highest bioavailable protein sources.

 

6.)           If you would like modern research regarding protein check out the research from Brad Schoenfeld, PhD and “protein expert” Stuart Phillips, PhD and his team at McMaster University.

 

7.)           Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of post-exercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28978542/)

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