Finding the Right Protein Balance

Protein is essential for health and especially critical for athletes. Learn how to balance your protein correctly to build muscle.

Protein Sources

A next-level performance edge doesn't come from dangerous and costly protein supplements. The solution lies in what's on your plate. (Read Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?)

Consuming the right foods at the right time is your key for success.

Protein: The Muscle-Building Key

Protein goes beyond building muscle and supporting recovery. It also helps fight off infections.

It's generally understood that athletes require a higher protein intake than the RDA for non-athletes. However, that doesn't mean you should go overboard with eggs and grilled chicken. Protein loading can lead to a loss of calcium and dehydration, both disastrous consequences if your dream is to play collegiately and professionally.

The key is to find the right balance and to focus on quality over quantity. Here are some tips to help.

Include alkaline-based protein sources

Your body transforms nearly all foods into acids or alkaline bases, and you need balance to be healthy.

Although meat is a naturally acidic food, no studies have proven that it increases the acidity of the body. However, including plant protein sources (seeds or grains) is an easy and cost-friendly way to pack additional protein into a meal. They are easily digested, they promote muscle growth and they reduce common post-workout inflammation.[1] Good options include one cup of lentils (18g of protein); and one cup each of quinoa, chickpeas and broccoli (20g of protein).

Snack strong

After training, eat a snack with a 1:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. This will further encourage proper protein synthesis. Carbs are an athlete's best friend. After activity, your fuel stores are pretty empty.

By consuming equal amounts of carbs and protein, you'll avoid sending your body into a catabolic state where muscles are depleted.

Avoid protein overload

Too much protein increases your body's requirement for water to remove the excess nitrogen. To be safe, stick with 20 grams at mealtime.

Choose clean protein sources

Choose either plant-based sources or stick with lean meats, chicken and fish. Get an even larger variety from dairy and soy products.


[1] Gardiner, P., & Woodgate, D. (2004). U.S. Patent Application 10/841,404.

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