Whether running sprints, swimming long distances or lifting weights, athletes expend more energy than the average person and their bodies need additional nutrients to recover from intense physical activity. Protein plays an important role in an athlete’s diet as it helps repair and strengthen muscle tissue. High protein diets are popular among athletes — especially those seeking a leaner, more defined physique.
When determining protein requirements for athletes, its important to look at the athlete’s overall diet. Athletes who consume diets adequate in carbohydrate and fat end up using less protein for energy than those who consume a higher protein diet. This means that protein can go toward building and maintaining lean body mass. Athletes need to ensure that they are also meeting needs for carbs and fat, not just protein.
Muscle growth happens only when exercise and diet are combined. For example, research has shown that timing of protein intake plays a role. Eating high-quality protein (such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy or soy) within two hours after exercise — either by itself or with a carbohydrate — enhances muscle repair and growth.
Duration and intensity of the activity is also a factor when it comes to protein needs. Because they are building muscle, power athletes require a higher level of protein consumption than endurance athletes. Power athletes’ protein needs are highest during the initial training phases, when muscle gain is largest.
(Article by renowned Sports Physiotherapist, Dr. Manish Deepak Pardeshi)
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