Protein 101

Understanding Protein

Medical research over the last 10 years has demonstrated that athletes engaged in intense exercise need to consume at least 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight in order to maintain positive protein balance. This is twice the normal recommended daily allowance for the average sedentary person.

If an individual wants to maintain or gain muscle mass, they must be in positive protein balance. A negative protein balance means that the individual will burn their own body’s protein (muscle) for fuel. Over time this will lead to muscle wasting and training intolerance. This is a condition that all athletes need to avoid.

In addition, older individuals who wish to avoid muscle loss due to the aging process, may benefit from consuming 1 – 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Recommended Daily Protein Intake
  • Average adult: 40 – 150 grams for an adult ranging in weight from 110 – 330 pounds
  • Moderate intensity athletes: 50 – 225 grams for weights ranging from 110 – 330 pounds
  • High intensity athletes: 70 – 300 grams for weights ranging from 110 – 330 pounds

This protein requirement would mean consuming 3 – 11 servings of either lean chicken or fish per day. This is more difficult the larger the athlete is.

In addition, there is a significant difference in the bioavailability and absorption rates of protein as well as two additional factors that are critical: the amino acid profile and the concentration of peptides with biologic activity (ɑ-lactalbumin, β-lactoglobulin, glycomacropeptides, immunoglobulins, and lactoferrin).

Timing of Protein Consumption

Timing of protein consumption also plays a significant role in protein balance, maintenance of lean mass, and adding muscle mass. Studies demonstrate that consuming rapidly absorbed protein and a high concentration of branch chain amino acids both before and after intense exercise, is significantly beneficial. Also, the longer the elevated amino acid concentration remains in the bloodstream, the more beneficial it is to the athlete.

Protein Quality

Consuming a high quality whey protein has been shown in clinical studies to significantly improve lean muscle mass, strength and speed-strength. High quality whey is therefore considered to be ergogenic.

Combining WPI and WPC

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) is absorbed in 60-90 minutes in the upper portion of the small intestine. The additional digestive enzymes in DIOXYME New Zealand Whey Protein significantly increases the bio-absorption. Protein absorption leads to utilization of protein peptides by cellular mitochondria and elevated serum amino acid levels. This in combination, allows muscle cells to manufacture muscle proteins. This spike in protein levels is excellent for the athlete. However, maintaining these high levels may be even more beneficial. Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) is absorbed more slowly (2-3 hours) and maintains the elevated peptide and amino acid serum levels for an extended period of time.

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Written by Marc S. Schneider, M.D., P.A.