Mar 12, 2011 • By Scott Edson •
The amount of protein that an athlete engaging in sport performance training should consume is directly related to the body weight of that athlete. In general athletes must take in higher protein amounts then sedentary individuals of the same body-weight. A higher need for protein consumption is due first to the fact that during exercise of any intensity or duration protein is consumed as an energy source (Lemon, 2000). Even though protein is less efficient than fat and carbohydrate for energy production, during exercise some protein is always being broken down into energy within the body. Therefore, when an athlete is engaging in exercise their body will be using some of their dietary protein consumption for energy thus requiring more protein for post exercise recovery.
Higher protein consumption by athletes is also necessary due to an increased need for protein synthesis post exercise. Protein synthesis is the actual building or rebuilding of functional structures within the muscle cells. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of functional muscle structure, are derived from protein consumed in the diet. The body breaks down dietary protein into individual amino acids for use in muscle and other cells throughout the body. Several thousand individual amino acids are used to build each structure vital to muscle function and contraction. Without the adequate availability of amino acids structures cannot to be correctly synthesized after exercise, which slows the recovery process and adversely effects workout performance.
Therefore, it can be concluded that if you are looking to improve your workouts without gaining significant muscle mass, you should consume amounts of protein within the 1.6 – 1.8 grams per kilogram range described in the above research.