Protein Consumption Needs For Weight Lifters
Weight lifters have historically consumed large quantities of protein in the belief that it would enhance muscle mass.
For decades, scientists scoffed at their dietary habits because there was no research on the topic and it was believed that extra protein was just converted to fat.
However, over the past decade, protein requirements of athletes particularly weight lifters have been extensively studied. As it turns out, the weight lifters have been right all along.
The recommended daily intake for protein is 36 grams for every 100 pounds of body weight each day. However, this guideline is only appropriate for sedentary or moderately active individuals.
Endurance athletes and weight lifters need lots more protein in the diet. In fact, the latest recommendations for weight lifters range between 63 and 90 grams of protein per 100 pounds of body weight, which is about double of most people.
Why Do Weight Lifters Need More Protein?
- It’s used as a source of energy during prolonged or intense exercise.
- As weight lifting increases lean tissue mass, extra protein is needed to support muscle growth.
- Additional protein helps to accelerate healing from exercise-induced muscle damage.
These adaptations translate into real gains in the weight room. Check out this study:
In a 12-week weight training program, the athletes who ate the most protein experienced 22% greater strength gains in the squat and 42% greater gains in bench press than those who ate the least protein.
Does The Type Of Protein Matter?
The type of protein that is consumed also plays a role in protein’s effectiveness.
The branched-chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine make up about one-third of the protein found in skeletal muscle.
When branched-chain amino acids are consumed, protein synthesis is increased while protein breakdown is decreased a perfect metabolic environment for a weight lifter.
One branched-chain amino acid leucine is the most potent amino acid for stimulating muscle growth. The addition of leucine to a carbohydrate and protein meal following a workout increased protein synthesis more than just the meal without leucine.
Furthermore, leucine supplementation combined with mild caloric restriction stimulates fat burning more than caloric restriction alone.
Intake Misconceptions and Recommendations
A common misconception about high protein intake in athletes is that it produces excess strain on the kidneys and that it may weaken the bones. Both of the claims are false.
However, athletes should attempt to attain much of their protein intake from complete proteins rich in whole food vitamins such as eggs and meats.
Incomplete proteins that are commonly found in plant-based foods are not effective in stimulating protein synthesis without complementary foods or supplements that, in combination, provide all 20 amino acids.
Athletes should also shy away from fatty animal foods such as well-marbled steaks or high-fat beefs since these foods have more calories and fat per serving and can hinder strength gains and fat loss efforts.
Vitamin supplements should be kept to a minimum and nutritional derived from whole foods which provide natural vitamins the body can use.
Overall, athletes should consume more protein than the typical person.
This practice has now been scientifically proven time after time. Doubling the typical intake can yield big dividends in the weight room.
This is a great example of where the real-world knowledge of weight lifters beats out the book-smarts of researchers.