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How much protein should ATHLETES be consuming daily?

The simple answer is MORE than they currently are.


Protein is such a critical nutrient for athlete development, it demands an entire blog post, but if you're short on time today, here's the three big points I NEED YOU to take away from this article.

  1. .8 - 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight DAILY. If your athlete weighs 150 lbs, they should be taking in 120 - 150 grams of protein daily.

  2. Breakfast is a must. It's tough to take in enough protein when athletes sleep until 1 pm and miss breakfast... or when they go to school without eating any breakfast. Prioritize taking in some protein before leaving the house everyday.

  3. Pack your athlete's lunch for school. In general, schools do a good job giving kids necessary nutrients for lunch and feeding the masses... but they do not usually take into account ATHLETES. Athletes are practicing, playing, and training daily (sometimes multiple times daily) and with this increased volume of activity, they need special consideration. Pack a lunch so you KNOW that your athlete is getting enough high quality protein daily.

What is Protein?


Protein is a structural component of cells and tissues within the human body.


It functions as a repair tool for tissues after they get damaged (sometimes purposefully damaged) as well as playing a role in the growth and formation of new tissue.


When we workout and lift weights, we DAMAGE our bodies, specifically our muscular tissue.


The human body will then devote resources to that damage, repairing and ADAPTING it - making it stronger and more resilient - protein is one of these resources!


There is a really cool Japanese art called Kintsugi... essentially, artists repair broken pottery with this golden glue substance which makes the pots look even more beautiful, and potentially even stronger, than it was prior to breaking.


This golden glue substance is protein - and your body is the piece of art.


How much Protein?


I've discussed protein intake with many athletes, and I've yet to meet one that is taking in TOO MUCH protein.


Every athlete is different, and their exact protein intake is dependent on their size, sport, goals, training/practice volume, etc. but in general...


Youth, high school, and collegiate athletes should generally be consuming .8 and 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight daily.


Let's put this into some context...


If your athlete weighs 150 lbs, they should be consuming between 120 and 150 grams of protein DAILY.


If that seems like a lot, it is.


Example of a BAD PROTEIN day


I recently was speaking to an athlete that walked me through a day of eating, here's what they said...


Breakfast


Skipped due to sleeping until 1 pm


Protein Counter: 0 grams

Lunch


Buttered noodles


Protein Counter: 6 grams

Snack


Cheese and crackers


Protein Counter: 20 grams

Dinner


3 slices of pepperoni pizza


Protein Counter: 45 grams

A total of 45 grams of protein in a full day of eating is not going to cut it.


Athletes, especially active ones that train and practice, need more than this.


Let's look at what a GREAT day of protein intake might be...


Example of a GREAT PROTEIN day


Breakfast


3 eggs.

2 slices of whole wheat toast with butter.

2 sausage patties.


Protein Counter: 50 grams

Lunch


Buttered noodles WITH 4 slices of ham.

Glass of chocolate milk.


Protein Counter: 88 grams

Snack


Cheese and crackers


Protein Counter: 102 grams

Dinner


Grilled chicken breast.

1/2 cup of rice.

Side salad.


Protein Counter: 157 grams

157 GRAMS!


Right where we need to be.


And what changed?


First, we included a full size breakfast that added 50 grams of protein!


Second, we simply added some sliced ham to our lunch and a glass of chocolate milk... adding another ~40 grams of protein.


Third, we replaced our pepperoni pizza for dinner with chicken and rice... did you know a singular chicken breast has ~45 grams of protein!


Great Sources for Protein

  • Lean meats. Turkey. Chicken. Low fat % ground beef. Fish.

  • Sliced deli meats (great for lunches).

  • Almonds and other nuts (another great option for school snacks/lunches).

  • Chocolate milk.

  • Beans.

  • Eggs.

  • Peanut butter. Almond butter. Mixed nut butter.

  • Quinoa.

  • Greek yogurt (snacks!)

  • Cottage cheese.

Take Home Points


First, do not skip breakfast.


When skipped, athletes start the day behind and are forced to try and catch up later. Get the day off to a great start with a protein rich breakfast.

Second, PACK YOUR ATHLETE'S LUNCH.


Schools do the best job they can at providing nutrients to the masses - and in general they do a pretty good job considering the challenge and the number of students they need to feed daily.


BUT, in my experience they do not take into consideration the life of an ATHLETE.


Athletes have practices, games, training - sometimes multiple in a day - their caloric and protein demands are much greater than the average student's.


That being said, PACK YOUR ATHLETE'S LUNCH.


By doing so you can be SURE that they are getting the protein and calories they need to fuel their athletic and active lifestyle!


Third, reach out with specific questions.


At CSTS we are here to support athletes... helping them develop into confident, empowered individuals!


Nutrition is a large piece of this puzzle.


Reach out if you have any questions or if you would like to understand the nutritional needs of your athlete more specifically!


Carter Schmitz, MS, CSCS

Founder and Head Coach at CSTS

CSTrainingSystems@gmaill.com






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