Protein is a very important part of our diet. There is a lot of information swirling around about protein, both facts and untruths. As endurance athletes, we continually research and evolve our nutrition knowledge to help us optimize performance. We found protein to be a confusing issue. There are a few myths you may have thought and some answers that will help.
MYTH: We need lots of protein in our diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In reality, the average person eats way more protein than they actually require. The modern North American diet is filled with meat and dairy products and most who eat this way are consuming more than twice their daily recommended protein intake required to thrive, not to mention calorie requirements. Despite what we have been told, more protein isn’t actually better and the amount of protein you really need to build muscle is likely lower than you think. But how much do we actually need? The recommended requirement for an average sedentary adult is: women, 46 grams of protein/day, which is based on 57.5 kg individual. For men, the recommended requirement is 56 grams of protein/day, which is based on 70kg individual. For endurance athletes, they can consider having 1.2-1.4 grams protein/kg/day.
So not only can you get all the protein you need from a varied, plant-based diet, when you eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, your body gets plenty of muscle-building protein from the amino acids present in the plants to achieve overall health and optimize performance.
There are many different apps out there to help you calculate and track your protein and overall nutrition. We have been using Fitness Pal for many years and love the feature at the bottom of each day’s diary that breaks out the nutritional components of what you eat. This allows you to see exactly how much protein (also carbs, sugar, fiber, fat, etc.) so you can make the necessary adjustments.
For more insights on protein, please see the complete three-part ‘Getting protein on a plant-based diet’ blog series.