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How Much Protein Do You Need?

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.”
—Matthew 16:18

Jesus knows how to build His church. He also knows how to build your body. In fact, He even designed the food we eat to perform very specific functions in our bodies to promote health, healing, energy and growth. Athletes today know that what they eat has a direct effect on how they train and how they ultimately perform during competition. But there still seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the amount of protein needed for peak performance.

The primary function of protein is to build and repair body tissues including muscles, ligaments and tendons. It also plays an important role in synthesizing hormones, boosting your immune system and replacing red blood cells. Thus, getting the right amount of protein is important for every athlete. Athletes generally fall into two categories:

Chart A
Grams of Protein / Lb. of Body Weight
RDA for Sedentary Adult
Adult Exerciser
0.5 – 0.7
Adult Endurance Athlete
0.6 – 0.7
Growing Teenage Athlete
0.7 – 0.9
Athlete Building Muscle Mass
0.7 – 0.8
Athlete Restricting Calories
0.8 – 0.9

1. Athletes who eat too much protein. This includes those who wrestle and who play football, baseball, lacrosse and hockey. With athletes in these sports appearing more and more muscular, an increasing number of athletes are turning to large amounts of protein and protein supplements in order to gain an advantage.

2. Athletes who don’t eat enough protein. This includes those who play soccer or tennis, or those who run, swim or compete in triathlons. These athletes tend to load up on carbohydrates to meet their ene

rgy needs, but are deficient in protein, iron, zinc, calcium and other nutrients.

Both types of athletes will fail to perform at their peak. Too much protein can hurt the on-the- field performance of athletes, and here’s why…

High-protein diets that are low in carbohydrates don’t provide enough fuel for their muscles. They will lack the energy they need from carbohydrates in order to train with the intensity to help the muscles grow, and also to sustain energy throughout competition. This can be why some athletes “run out of gas” late in the game.

Chart B
Food Portion
Protein (g)
1 cup
1 cup


1 ounce
1 egg
Chicken Breast
4 ounces
Lean steak
4 ounces
Lean hamburger
4 ounces
Peanut butter
1 tablespoon


6 ounces
2 slices

Too little protein can make them susceptible to colds, illnesses and injuries. For these athletes, recovering from intense training or competition takes longer, and they struggle to overcome nagging injuries.

Protein intake should be between 15–30% of a person’s total daily caloric consumption. Chart A offers some guidelines for determining personal protein intake.

Using this chart, a growing teenage athlete who weighs 170 lbs. should consume between 119–153 grams of protein each day.

170 lbs. x 0.7 = 119 g/day
170 lbs. x 0.9 = 153 g/day

Chart B can also help by showing the estimated amount of protein in some common foods. This month, try to keep your protein intake within the specified guidelines. It just might help you perform at your peak!

Copyright 2007 Sharing the Victory Magazine

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