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23 Jan 2003

Hi there Triboy / Ma'at

I have been following a diet of 60% carb; 30% protein more or less. I'm worried about taking in more protein then I'm already getting. I'm going to tell you why, will you please then let me know your view.

The typical recommendation of protein for athletes range from 1.2 to 1.4g of protein per kg of body weight, considerably higher than the RDA of 0.8g/kg body weight. My weight is 53kg, so if I eat for e.g. one chicken breast, a small lean hamburger, a half a cup of cooked beans, 6-oz can of tuna, and two glasses of milk a day, that would give me about 82g of protein. This is twice the RDA. If I'm going to have protein with EVERY meal (and you advise 6 meals) I'm going to be consuming even more, so why have a protein shake or any bought high-protein product? Hi-protein diets can increase calcium loss in urine and compromise our bone health. It also unduly burdens the kidneys by forcing them to excrete the resulting excess nitrogen as urea. I want to have toned muscles and be healthy, but it needs to be inside and out, not just appearance. Don't you believe there's any side effects to all this protein you are consuming or are you eating really SMALL portions of protein per meal. How many grams do you think you are consuming and what is your weight? I'm willing to try your way if its not detrimental to my overall health. Please can you give me a little more information with regards to your method of training and why you have chosen this approach? If I've got it all wrong I would hate to continue down that path.

Answer 459 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Code
At your request, I shall comment on the points you have made. In 2001, I attended a Seminar on Sports Nutrition, where it was suggested that athletes can use between 1.3 and 1.8 g of protein per kg bodyweight, thus you with a body weight of 53 kg, would be allowed 69 g to 95g of protein a day depending on the intensity and type of exercise you are doing. If you are training very intensively then the 82g of protein you say you ingest on a daily basis, would be more or less correct. If you train less intensively, you would not need as much. This is something that you must decide. I think the idea of spreading food intake out over 6 meals a day should be interpreted as follows: you split up your normal daily intake into 6 meals instead of 3, thus you would not eat 2 protein foods at any given meal and also split up foods such as the tuna into 2 meals. An important factor that is often overlooked when athletes are training very hard, is that they need to ensure a high carbohydrate intake so that they don't use protein for energy purposes. If you ingest too little carbohydrate and train intensively, you will lose, instead of gain muscle mass. Your schedule of 60% carbs and 30% protein, is perfectly adequate unless your are really training flat out. In such a case I would recommend that you increase your carb intake to 70%, which is what the Tour de France cyclists use. The idea is to use protein to build muscle and eating more and more protein is not the answer. Even lean protein foods do contain relatively large amounts of fat (which is high in energy, and can cause fat deposition, instead of muscle growth), so this is why many athletes rather use high-protein products which contain amino acids and some carbs, but very little, or no fat. You are correct that eating too much protein can damage the kidneys and should be avoided. So if you are already taking high-protein shakes, etc, then you don't need to also eat high-protein foods at every meal. The articles I wrote in 2001 on the subject of "Diets for Tired Athletes, I & II' should still be accessible if you click on 'Diet' and 'View old Diet & Food site' and browse.
Best regards
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