Protein powders have become
increasingly popular, particularly with men who are trying to build
muscle. We however, find that most people tend to overestimate the amount of
protein they actually need. Unless you are seriously bodybuilding, most of us should be
able to meet our protein requirements through food.
Protein is mostly essential for
muscle growth and repair, as well as recovery. For endurance athletes,
if is often also used as a fuel source after glycogen stores are
depleted. But how much do you actually need?
A general guideline is as follows:
For the average, inactive individual = 0.34g of
protein per 1/2 kg of body weight (per day)
For endurance athletes (long distance running/cycling) =
0.5-0.6g of protein per 1/2 kg of body weight (per day)
For strength and power athletes (weight lifting and
body building) = 0.6 - 0.8g of protein per 1/2 Kg of body weight (per
If you are eating a wide variety of
foods, you are likely already getting enough protein. However, if you
cut out entire food groups, perhaps due to a vegetarian/vegan diet or a dairy
allergy, you may be having trouble meeting your requirements.
Once you are meeting your daily
protein requirements, excess protein will not enhance performance or
muscle mass. Consuming excessive protein may be hard on your liver.
These vitamins, in particular
Vitamin C, is important for the
formation of connective tissue and certain hormones like adrenaline,
which are produced during exercise. It also plays a role in the
formation of red blood cells, which enhances iron absorption. It is an
antioxidant, protecting against exercise-related cellular damage. A
vitamin C supplement may be useful for prolonged, high-intensity
training for reducing muscle soreness and promoting quick recovery.
Most people only think of citrus
fruits as vitamin C sources, but many vegetables are also an amazing
source of this nutrient. For example, a red, raw bell pepper has more
vitamin C than an orange. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, hemp
and kale are also high in vitamin C.
Calcium is an important mineral for
bone formation, muscle growth, muscle contraction, and nerve
transmission. Again, most people think of dairy such as cow’s milk for
calcium sources, but other healthy sources include sardines, sesame and
hemp seeds, spinach, collard greens, and turnip greens. Weight bearing
exercises such as running and weight training help increase bone mass
and calcium absorption. Extra calcium is usually recommended for female
athletes with low oestrogen levels.
For athletes, this is a crucial
mineral because of its major function in the formation of haemoglobin.
Haemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood and myoglobin transports
oxygen in the muscle cells, fuelling our exercise. Energy metabolism
depends on iron, and athletes have higher requirements than sedentary
individuals. Iron losses are common during exercises that involve the
pounding of feet, such as running. Female athletes in particular tend to
be deficient in iron.
Foods rich in iron include red
meats, poultry (dark part of the meat), fish, whole grains, blackstrap
molasses. dark leafy
vegetables, eggs, and fortified foods. Absorption of Iron is improved if
sources are accompanied by vitamin C-rich fruits or vegetables.