Protein and Summer Adventure Sports
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It’s time to hang up the spring jackets and layers and gear up for your favorite summer sports. When you’re out there in the sunshine, hiking, rock climbing, or training for a competitive endurance event, it’s important to have a nutrition plan. You may have nailed a good breakfast and packed the fluids, but don't forget to throw a recovery snack in your bag as well. What you eat after you finish helps your muscles recover and get ready for the next session. This is where protein comes into play.
Why proteins are important in an athlete’s diet
Proteins are made up of small parts (think building blocks) joined together in long chains. These small parts are called amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids that join together to make all types of proteins, which can be found almost everywhere throughout your body—in muscles, bones, brain cells, blood, skin, and even fingernails. Nine of these are considered essential amino acids that can’t be made by your body and must come from food (1). The protein you consume from food is used to manufacture body protein used for growth, tissue repair, muscles, and organs. Virtually every part of you needs protein to stay healthy! When you exercise, your body requires even more protein than usual to strengthen and repair muscle (1).
How much protein do you need each day?
If you were heading out to go kayaking, you’d plan for weather and wear the right gear. In the same way, you also need to plan your protein intake to maximize its benefits: the amount and timing are important. The volume of protein you require depends on your body size and the type and regularity of the exercise you are doing. A general daily protein intake range for athletes is 1.2 to 2.0 g/kg/d (2). The higher end of the range is usually recommended during periods of high intensity training or when overall energy intake is reduced.
Spreading protein out throughout the day
From surfing to mountain biking or anything in between, spreading complete protein meals and snacks out evenly over the day will help your body better adapt to training. You're making sure your body has a regular supply of protein for muscle building and repair. Current science recommends that athletes aim to consume 0.3 g/kg body weight (generally 15-25g complete protein) after your workout and at each of your meals spread out throughout the day (2). A regular intake of protein will also help you feel full and keep your energy levels stable. High quality proteins come from animal sources and soy products and contain all the essential amino acids. Proteins are also found in a variety of plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, and even whole grain foods.
Here are some easy ways to include a variety of protein in your diet throughout your day:
Breakfast: Three egg omelet with veggies
Snack: Cheese and wholegrain crackers
Lunch: Caesar salad with chicken
Post training snack: Berry smoothie (soy milk, soy yogurt, berries) and a handful of nuts and seeds
Dinner: Lentil curry and plain yogurt
When is the best time to consume protein?
For optimum recovery, aim to consume a source of high protein soon after you've finished working out (3). Although a nicely prepared organic chicken breast may be an ideal source of protein, it’s not really convenient to throw that in your gear bag. That’s why it’s helpful to have a portable source of complete protein on hand, especially if it's combined with great flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and hazelnuts. (Hint: check out (Hint: check out CLIF Builder’s 20g protein bars!)
- International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Bill Campbell, Richard B Kreider, Tim Ziegenfuss, Paul La Bounty, Mike Roberts, Darren Burke, Jamie Landis, Hector Lopez and Jose Antonio. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2007 4:8
- Joint position statement by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Dietitians of Canada (DC), and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Nutrition and Athletic Performance; Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 3 - p 543–568
- Protein – Which is Best? Jay R. Hoffman* and Michael J. Falvo*J Sports Sci Med. 2004 Sep; 3(3): 118–130