Athletic Fuel: How much protein you should eat

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Do runners and body builders need the same amount of protein? How about soccer players and wrestlers? The answer is – yes!!

When you calculate protein needs based on body weight, a more-than-adequate intake for both types of athletes is about 0.75 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.5 grams protein per kilogram). While this need with be slightly higher if the athlete is restricting calories or in a growth spurt, like in wrestling, 1 gram of protein per pound (2.0 g pro/kg) is the maximum needed per day.

Let’s do some math:

140 pound runner = 106 g protein per day

240 pound body builder – 180 grams protein per day

Either of these amounts of protein is easily obtained by enjoying a protein-rich food with each meal. Here are three easy ways to meet your protein needs:

Cottage cheese, 1 cup 30 g

Tuna, 6-ounce can 35-40 g protein

Chicken breast, 6 ounces 50 g

Because a 240-pound body builder can easily devour a 16-ounce (two cup) tub of cottage cheese, a few cans of tuna (for a mere snack), and two chicken breasts, he’ll match his protein requirements without needing supplements.

For more information:

Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Chapter 7. Protein to Build and Repair Muscles

Written by Nancy Clark MS RD, who has a private practice in the Boston-area where she teaches athletes one-on-one how to eat to win. She is author of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

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