Protein- Packed Performance for Endurance Sports
All the tissues in our body, from muscles to tendons, from heart to hormones, from liver to lungs, are all made from basic building blocks of protein. Protein is a vital macro-nutrient, acquired from both animal and vegetable sources in our diet. The recommended daily amount of protein that is required by individuals for optimum health, has had a pendulum-like history, swinging from relatively large quantities in the 70's and 80's, to relatively low quantities in the 90's. Currently, the pendulum has settled at a generally recommended level of 1-1.2g/kg of body weight/day, for moderately active people and between 1.5 - 2g/kg of body weight/day, for high performance activity. This equates to 140g per day for a 70kg athlete.
Yet endurance athletes typically pay nearly all their attention to their carbohydrate needs, possibly missing out on optimum protein nutrition. Recent research has produced information about use of protein, which could be very useful to long distance runners, cyclists, triathletes etc..
A typical Bob Graham food stop. Having laid out a choice of nourishment, supporters look up expectantly at the flanks of Seat Sandle, for their runner to appear.
(Pete Taylor, May 2008)
For endurance athletes, there are a number of issues affecting the ongoing process of protein degradation (break down) and synthesis (build-up), which are especially important. e.g. :
FACT: During prolonged exercise, proteins can be broken down to provide between 3 & 5% of your total energy expenditure. This rises to up to 10% if glycogen stores (the carbs stored in your muscles & liver), are low. In other words, hard earned muscle is ‘eaten' away to provide fuel. Imagine the cumulative consequences of this over a prolonged training period......by the time you line up for a competition, you'd be a shadow of your former self!
Supplying food at the right time, often requires team work! - two 'amigos' carry food & fluid for the third amigo, and ensure that he actually eats it.
Tattenhall runners on Green Gable 2008)
FACT: During exercise, especially in activities like running down hill, there is microscopic break down of muscle cell membranes. This damage needs to be repaired during recovery periods, or else over-use injuries are sure to develop. Getting to the start line injury- free is often a feat in itself, when undergoing heavy training loads. In addition, restoration of glycogen stores in these damaged cells is severely impaired, hampering training even further.
ANSWER ? Adopt an approach to protein consumption that provides your body enough essential amino-acids, and at the right time, for it to repair and restore itself effectively.
1 PRE EXERCISE
2 DURING EXERCISE
3 POST EXERCISE
Biking the Tour de Mont Blanc takes a lot of energy - good food planning is an essential.
(A Ride the Alps group approaching the Grand Col Ferret 2006)
Finally, make an effort to read food labels for a while, and get to know some of the sources and quantities of protein that you typically eat, particularly those that are not accompanied by much fat. e.g.
Here are a few examples of snacks containing approx. 50g carb & 10g protein, to get you started:
Jean Ashley - powering her way to silver medal in the British National QuadrathonChampionships
Brigg - 2008
By Sue Ellis MSc
Sue Ellis provides one on one advice on nutrition analysis and specialises in preparation and planning for endurance and ultra-endurance events.