How Much Protein Do Athletes Need?

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How Much Protein Do Athletes Need?


Protein is made up of essential and non - essential amino acids. A chain of amino acids is called a polypeptide. The human body can make the non - essential amino acids, whereas the essential amino acids must be ingested through food. Protein is found in food, and is most highly concentrated in animal sources than other sources. It is digested by the human body, and broken down into its amino acid components, beginning in the stomach. An enzyme disassembles the protein polypeptide chains into smaller components, which are broken down again and again in order to facilitate the digestion process. Once the protein has been broken down sufficiently, it can be absorbed and stored for the body to use. Protein can be inefficiently used as energy by converting amino acids to glucose, but it is primarily used by the body to build and repair tissues. If too much protein is taken in, the excess may be stored as fat.


How much protein should an individual eat? Are protein supplements necessary? Much hype exists about protein and its importance. "Mix one part fact with several parts ignorance; season with advertising, sprinkle on a need for that all-important competitive edge, and you have a recipe for protein supplements" (6). This statement generally reflects what physicians and well educated authorities on diet and sports medicine believe. Most Americans consume a 12% protein diet and most body builders a 25% to 30% protein diet (6.) Many athletes commonly believe that they must take in more protein than the recommended intake. The health industry recognizes this, and thus a plethora of fitness magazines and health food stores boast advertisements for pr...

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...he fact that a protein intake of more than the recommended dietary allowance can only be potentially beneficial (to an extent) for elite athletes.

Works Cited:

(1) Aronson, Virginia. (1989). Protein and Miscellaneous Ergogenic Aids. Physician and Sports Medicine, 14, 199-202.

(2) Clark, Nancy. (1991). How To Pack a Meatless Diet Full of Nutrients. Physician and Sports Medicine, 19, 31-34.

(3) Henderson, Doug. Nutrition and the Athlete. FDA Consumer, 21, 18-21.

(4) Houston, Michael. (1992) Protein and Amino Acid Needs of Athletes. Nutrition Today, 27, 36-38.

(5) Lemon, Peter. (1996). Is Increased Dietary Protein Necessary or Beneficial for Individuals with a Physically Active Lifestyle? Nutrition Reviews, 54, S169-S173.

(6) McCarthy, Paul. (1989). How Much Protein Do Athletes Really Need? Physician and Sports Medecine, 17, 173-175.
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