Protein plays an important role in an athlete’s diet. It helps repair damaged body tissue and assists in building and strengthening muscles.¹ How much protein does the average athlete need? Training may slightly increase protein requirements; however, most recreational athletes easily meet protein targets when they consume a varied diet that focuses on nourishing foods.¹ See the table below to estimate how much protein you need based on your current weight in kilograms.
Guidelines for maximum protein needs for different groups of athletes:
|Sedentary||0.8g/kg body mass|
|General training program||1.0g/kg body mass|
|Heavy training program||1.2-1.7g/kg body mass|
In addition to amount of protein, it is also important for athletes to consider the timing of protein intakes. Eating foods rich in protein with your main meals can help to maintain lean body mass, while consuming protein soon after exercise may increase muscle protein synthesis rates.² Synthesis rates are highest when meals/snacks containing 20 grams of protein (closer to 30 grams in older populations) are consumed. Newer research is also suggesting that eating a protein rich snack before going to bed may help to promote post-exercise muscle growth during overnight sleep.² Recommendations for protein timing are to consume about 20-25g of protein with each main meal, 20-25g of protein after exercise and 20-40g of protein prior to sleep.² If you are a smaller individual or are monitoring total calories eaten, plan to make one of your main meals also your post-exercise snack.
Foods that provide approximately 10g of protein:
2 small eggs, 30g cheese, 70g cottage cheese, 1 cup low fat milk, 35g cooked meat, 40g cooked poultry, 2 slices French toast, ½ cup edamame, ¾ cup plain yogurt, 50g cheddar cheese, 50g canned salmon/tuna, ½ cup cooked lentils, ¼ cup peanuts, 75g firm tofu
Makes about 12 burgers
2 14oz blocks of organic, firm tofu, pressed.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
2 large carrots, grated
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup pecans (or walnuts), toasted
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Burger toppings as per your choice (cheese slices, tomato, avocado, onions, lettuce, etc)
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
- In a skillet over low-medium heat, heat the oil. Add in the onions and dried oregano and cook for about 7-8 minutes.
- Add the carrots and bell peppers and cook for another 7-8 minutes.
- Transfer the vegetables to a food processor.
- Add tofu and remaining ingredients to the food processor (depending on the size of the appliance you may have to blend the items in two batches). Pulse until combined.
- Transfer blended mix to a large bowl. Adjust seasonings as per preference (add extra Dijon mustard or soy sauce or add some hot sauce). Mix in bread crumbs.
- Using a 1/2 cup scoop, scoop out burger mixture and place onto baking sheet. Gently flatten burgers.
- Bake for 40 minutes (flipping halfway through).
- Eat with or without a bun, topped with your favourite ingredients.
Recipe adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites (2013).
Australian Institute of Sports. Current Concepts in Sports Nutrition.
http://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/143386/CurrentConcepts.pdf. Accessed January 25, 2016.
van Loon LJC. Protein Ingestion Prior to Sleep: Potential for Optimizing Post-
Exercise Recovery. Gatorade Sports Science Institute. http://www.gssiweb.org/Article /sse-117-protein-ingestion-prior-to-sleep-potential-for-optimizing-post-exercise- recovery. Published 2014. Accessed January 25, 2016.