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understanding macro nutrients part 3 (Proteins)

PROTEINS

This is a crucial component of an athlete’s diet as it is essential for the growth and repair of skin, hair, nails, bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles. It also serves a crucial role in enzyme production and maintaining a strict acid-base balance.

It is viewed that the average person, male or female requires about 0.83 grams per kilo of bodyweight which equates to the equivalent of two chicken breasts in a 70kg person, about 58gm. Competitive athletes especially those involved in heavy weight training consume around 1.2gm to a maximum of 2gm of protein per kilo of bodyweight. This should not be confused with the general population who weight train three to four times a week with moderate intensity. Excess amount of protein provides NO health benefits and is proven to be harmful. Any additional protein is stored by the body as fat.

Good sources of protein are foods such as poultry, low fat milk, nuts and seeds, soy and soy products, some lean red meat and fish. Fast foods and most cheese contain saturated fats, making then unsuitable as a good source of protein.

There has been a recent influx of high protein-low carbohydrate diets, especially within the weight loss industry. While this type of diet may or may not help shed the pounds, it is a fact that a low carbohydrate and high protein diet is NOT suitable for serious athletes and sports people.

There seems to be a rising fear among amateur weight lifters, body-builders and some professional athletes, that if they don’t consume large amounts of protein, the body will be forced to breakdown lean muscle mass to provide energy. Though the body uses protein sparingly, generally after about 45 minutes of vigorous exercise, it is still not a good idea to consume excess amounts of protein. Carbohydrate is the body’s preferred choice of fuel, so a rich diet of carbohydrate before, after and during a workout acts as a “sparer” for proteins. Only in the absence of sufficient carbohydrates will the body metabolise significant amounts of proteins for energy production.

It's worth noting that excess protein does NOT pass through digestive system as a lot of people seem to think, but is actually stored as fat. So depending upon your body type, current weight, height and your resting metabolic rate you may not need that protein shake after your workout.

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