How Much Protein Do Athletes Need? | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How Much Protein Do Athletes Need?

November 10, 2010

Must See Nutrition Videos

Protein provides amino acids to the muscles, which they need to rebuild, recover and gain size and strength. Experts recommend consuming between .8 and 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. One kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, so (for example) a 200-lb. guy weighs about 91 kg. Thus, he needs between 73 and 137 grams of protein per day.

Here's the easy formula:

Weight (lbs)/2.2 = Weight (kg)
Weight (kg) x Protein (.8 - 1.5 g/1 kg bodyweight) = Total Grams of Protein per Day

In spite of this dietary recommendation, the benefits of protein lead many athletes to the misconception that more is always better. In reality, there's a limit to the amount of protein the body can process and use. Consuming too much protein can lead to an imbalance in an athlete's diet. If protein outweighs carbohydrate, the body begins to use protein as a source of energy. This produces toxins (called ketones), which place unneeded strain on the organs, and can cause dehydration and even bad breath.

When considering adding more protein to your diet, first educate yourself on your dietary needs. Meeting the daily protein requirement with five or six small meals, each with 20 to 30 grams of protein, is recommended for most athletes. Great sources are dairy products, such as milk (8g for one cup); lean meats and fish (20g for 3 oz.); and chicken (27g for 4 oz.).

If a deficiency still exists or you need to jumpstart strength gains, leading sports authorities recommend drinking one whey protein shake a day, about half an hour to 45 minutes following a workout. During this time, muscles are primed to rebuild and recover. Whey is the easiest form of protein to digest, making it the best option for supplying an athlete's muscles with a quick burst of amino acids.

To learn more about the best kinds of protein, check out STACK’s exclusive content on the best protein sources:

Essential Protein Sources
A Guide to the Best Protein Sources
Whey Protein Powders
Protein Shakes
Recovery Drinks

Topics: PROTEIN | DIET
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Ketogenic Diet 101

How to Maximize Tennis Performance With Your Diet

High Protein Diets Won't Fix Everything

Power Your Training With Superfoods

Orthorexia: Can 'Eating Clean

Low-Carb Diet Plan

Can Instagram Affect Your Diet?

How to Stick to Your Diet at Starbucks

The 9 Strangest Foods Favored by Athletes

You're Doing It Wrong: The Muscle Building Diet

Wrestlers: Study Examines Effect of Rapid Weight Loss

Personalize Your Diet Plan With the ShopWell App

5 Eating Rules the L.A. Lakers Live By

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

Natural Food and Beverage Choices for Athletes

Should Athletes Follow a Pescetarian Diet?

Top 5 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight

The 8 Most Common Healthy Eating Mistakes

The Easiest Healthy Diet Tips

Vegetarian Diets for Football Players

Grading the Best (and Worst) Food Crazes of 2013

Intermittent Fasting: Secrets of Success

Diet Changes: 5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Plan

Should You Go Gluten Free?

3 Nutrition Hacks to Improve Your Sports Performance

Why the Number of Meals You Eat Per Day Doesn't Matter

Lose Weight by Changing Your Diet

Surprising Things You Can't Eat on a Paleo Diet

Can the Paleo Diet Work for Athletes?

The Low-Stress Diet Game Plan

How to Use Cheat Meals to Lose Fat Fast

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

The Meat-Free Athlete

Weight Loss and the Mediterranean Style Diet

Easy Gluten-Free Meals for Athletes

Detoxing the Safe, Natural Way

4 Tips You Should Follow Before Becoming a Vegetarian

Does a Vegan Diet Contain Enough Protein for Athletes?

Diet Tips to Improve On-Ice Performance

The Only 2 Running Diet Rules You Need to Know

Vegetarian Recipes for the Carnivorous Athlete