There are a lot of misconceptions these days about protein. Whether its protein shakes to protein bars to eating a pure protein and veggie diet, our society has been going crazy for protein lately! In the United States, we generally eat more protein per day than what is required. This is due to the fact that high protein sources such as beef, chicken and pork, are so readily available and easily accessible to us.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the average healthy adult needs about .8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This equates to approximately 55-68 grams of protein per day, or about two 5-oz chicken breasts. As you can see, it isn’t hard to meet your protein requirements for the day, and this doesn’t even include all of the other nuts, grains, seeds, veggies, or dairy in your diet!
When it comes to being physically active, protein requirements do increase to meet higher needs. For athletes that concentrate on weight lifting, a protein intake of approximately 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight is recommended. Those athletes that focus on endurance, such as long distance runners, can get away with consuming about 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight to meet their needs. It‘s important to note that muscle growth can only happen when muscle building exercise is combined with diet, not just from protein intake alone.
The best time for an athlete to consume additional protein would be after the workout, when the athlete’s muscles are in “repair mode.” Protein shakes aren’t a necessary part of the diet, as we often get enough protein from our diet alone. However, some athletes prefer protein shakes for convenience. Look for natural protein powders that don’t contain artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and other “endurance enhancing” ingredients. These added ingredients can often be harmful to the system, and things like caffeine and sweeteners can sometimes cause bloating.