Do Adventurethon & Multisport endurance athletes need protein in their diet?
Do Adventurethon & Multisport Endurance athletes need protein in their diets??
Many people know that a carbohydrate is a fast, accessible fuel for an endurance athlete, so this is generally what they will be calling upon during their exercise. It is quite common to see very active athletes really smashing down big quantities of carbohydrates each day with very minimal amounts of protein being added to their diets.
But it’s also important to note that even the Australian Institute of Sport recommends that athletes training in high intensities or longer workloads consume approx. 1.7 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. (AIS are quite conservative compared to a number of other organisations)
You may be thinking ‘hey, isn’t protein intake just for bodybuilders and strength athletes?’ Well it’s funny you ask that, because Adventurethon, triathlon and endurance mountain biking are also strength sports, so that kind of makes you a strength athlete too!
What I mean by that is, yes we use the Aerobic energy system on a regular basis, but a lot of times for a technical climb or an effort up a hill, a surge, a rock garden or a jump on the bike, we draw upon our anaerobic reserves where muscle is really needed. In fact if you look at paddling, that whole movement is based on the muscles of the core, legs, lats and stabilizers, so ensuring each stroke remains quality and in form really has a lot to do with strength.
The action of running relies on the gluteus maximus, Quads, calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and of course the stabilizers in the gluteus medius. If your Muscles did not adapt to the workload required to push up steeper terrain faster and for longer, it would not take too long for your form to dissolve and you would start to use all the wrong muscles. Suddenly your speed drops and performance decreases…possibly even leading to injuries and imbalances.
The concepts of pushing your body to endure more seems easy enough to master, BUT is wasted if you do not do what is required to actually repair the muscles that have been asked to adapt via your training stimulus.
What do muscles need to repair after training?
Muscles need to be fed, one of the best quotes from the bodybuilding world is this: “there is no such thing as over training, just under eating”. By this we don’t mean go nuts training, however make sure you match your input of food to the amount of training you do.
Muscles aren’t merely calculators of calories in and calories out. Timing and hormone response are the important factors to be looking at to keep those wattage-turning legs and paddle-churning back and shoulder muscles in top performing shape. The Calorie needs are an important factor but don’t have time to detail them all during this article…basically, if you consume too little calories for your training needs you will not be able to recover sufficiently or be able to fuel hard enough workouts to cause adaptation.
Pre workout Fuelling- making sure your body has a carbohydrate prior to training can have a protein sparing effect, meaning that your body doesn’t burn into its protein stored within the muscles during exercise. A Branch chain amino acid and/or L glutamine can also serve as a way to spare protein breakdown during exercise if you are following some advice to keep carbohydrates low during certain workouts or phases of your training.
Post Workout fuelling- The harder your muscles have worked, the more important this is. The size of this meal can be more as your muscles are hungry and able to absorb more carbohydrate and Protein. You should aim to consume ¼ of your daily protein requirements in your Post workout fuelling of hard sessions. In this meal consume a larger hit of carbohydrates compared to many of your other meals. WHY? Well as the workout has just occurred you will be able to absorb much more of it, going towards a speedy recovery and prepping your body for that same or a harder session again the next week.
Regular trickle feeding of proteins and carbs– A balanced diet is extremely important and elimination of any one type of food generally isn’t the answer to success. Ensure you are still getting carbohydrates and proteins on a regular basis. I use the term ‘trickle feeding’, but really you would be looking at food every 2.5 to 3.5 hrs depending on your shifts, work schedules, movements etc. The Idea of the regular small serves is to absorb more of the foods and also to keep the Muscles in a state where they are repairing and not breaking up again…the reason you need a small amount of protein intake regularly is because your body cannot store it and is constantly turning the protein over … if it’s gone and the body doesn’t have a new protein source it has no choice but to catabolize or break down muscle…and as much as STRIPPING MUSCLE sounds like a great way to get light for endurance sports, all it is going to do is reduce your wattage on the bike. If you want to get light the weight needs to come from your FAT stores NOT YOUR MUSCLE.
Remember it’s the POWER TO WEIGHT ratio you are trying to increase in endurance sports
An example of meal timings for an Endurance athlete
- 0430 Pre training Snack/ Drink
- TRAINING+ recovery meal
- 0700 Breakfast
- 1000 Morning tea
- 1230 Lunch
- 3:30pm Afternoon Tea
- TRAINING + recovery meal
- 7pm Dinner
- 9pm Snack before bed
Taking regular serves of meat veg a few nuts and if needed rice or sweet potato are a great way to get regular awesome foods fuelling your body, but throwing in a fast paced society, busy work schedule, training schedule and for many family commitments and all of a sudden the sustenance of the muscles that make you paddle faster, ride harder and leap further seems a little too much work. Many people choose to supplement the tougher meals when they are the most busy with some of the modern replacements like protein Supplements. Protein Supplements come now in both a milky type of taste or a cordial type of taste…the milkier taste which are the whey based and often you can’t go past the chocolate flavours but also a range of spin offs in these ranges giving you something to look forward to after a hard workout. The Cordial type of tasting proteins are a much newer addition to the protein supplement market and are a bit easier to digest especially if you wanted to look at something to mix into your hydration pack race mix during a long event or training session.
So let’s look at your protein requirements and how to get those required amounts
Based on AIS 1kg / 1.7grams of protein (other sources say approx. 2 grams per kg and is also an easy guide)
|Weight KG||Daily Protein needs g||Per meal protein over 6 meals per day||Recovery meal protein amount|
|50kg||50* 1.7 = 85 grams per day||14.116 per meal||85/4 =21.25 grams after training|
|60kg||60*1.7=102 grams per day||17 per meal||102/4=25.5 grams after training|
|70kg||70*1.7=119 grams per day||19.83 per meal||119/4= 29.75 grams after training|
|80kg||80*1.7=136 grams per day||22.66 per meal||136/4= 34 grams after training|
|85kg||85*1.7=144.5 grams per day||24.08 per meal||144.5/4= 36.125 grams after training|
|90kg||90*1.7=153 grams per day||25.5 per meal||153/4= 38.25 grams after training|
|95kg||95*1.7=161.5 grams per day||26.91 per meal||161.5/4= 40.375 grams after training|
These Amounts of protein are given to you as a guide to what an athlete should be consuming protein wise in order to get enough daily to help recovery adequately from Endurance training sessions. This Article does not give you a full detailed insight into the exact needs of carbohydrates across all meals however it is well known by many athletes that Carbohydrates are a great source of Energy to fuel Workouts and elicit hormone surges that promote recovery. This Article also has not covered any of the Roles of Fats which are extremely important in any athletes Diet, nor has it covered the importance of Micronutrients found in the foods we eat and their roles… this Article was purely to get you to look at the protein component of your diet as an endurance athlete and see if you eat close to the amounts recommended. Of course there are sometimes exceptions to when people should eat this much protein and some medical conditions such as existing kidney issues need to be considered and of course discussed with a medical professional such as a Doctor or Accredited Sports Dietician.
There are many things to consider when creating a Nutrition plan and for the Endurance athlete Power to weight ratio is one of the most important things…DO NOT sacrifice your Power to become feather weight…the ratio must be kept…and a good Sports Dietitian will be able to help with that.
If you Struggle to get the protein requirements recommended in this Article, feel free to look at protein options like on the following links.
A simple WPI product: http://whassupps.com.au/product/cyborg-sport-wpi/
Endurance athletes Stack: http://whassupps.com.au/product/endurance-athlete-essential-stack/
Recovery Protein: http://whassupps.com.au/product/bsc-recovery-protein/
Athletes Stack with Carbs Powders: http://whassupps.com.au/product/cyborg-pure-perfect-training-stack/