As a macronutrient, Protein gets a ton of press. Here is a brief article exploring what we think youth athletes and parents of, should know about protein.
Why do I need protein?
For those of you that don’t know, protein is vitally important for:
Where can I find protein?
Protein is easily sourced, whatever the dietary requirements of the athlete.
Adequate intake of protein spaced throughout the day is optimal for muscle recovery, repair and growth
- Lean Meats (Chicken, Turkey, Steak etc.)
- Dairy (Milk, Cheese & Yoghurt)
- Cottage Cheese
- Nuts (Almonds, Peanuts)
- Sea foods (Tuna, Salmon)
- Quorn (Vegetarians)
✓ Check the food labels to calculate how much protein is in your serving.
✓ Check out our PRO-ON-THE-GO blog for some clever ideas!
How much protein do I need?
Having enough protein in a youth athletes diet is essential to their health and performance.
The research shows too much protein in adult populations isn’t harmful, but it is unnecessary. The body only uses what it needs and excretes the rest in urine. It will also put extra stress on the liver and kidneys, so be mindful not to exceed guidelines (Bagchi, Nair and Sen, 2013).
Not enough protein is the issue, short term you will be okay as the body becomes more efficient at ‘recycling’ protein, but long term athletes can suffer from the side effects of protein deficiency. The biggest concern here in relation to performance is muscle wastage, where muscle size and performance will decrease due to a lack of protein. In extreme cases sustained lack of protein can cause growth to slow down (Bean, 2013).
Although there is limited date for youth athletes protein requirements that are accepted widely, Bean, 2013 came up with some estimated guidelines that we support. Given they have been formulated using the Department of Health, 1991 findings.
It is accepted that non-athletic young people (13-18 year olds) need around 0.85-1g protein per KG of body weight and Bean, 2013 upped them slightly due to the increased demands on the body to 1.2-1.4g per KG of body weight. Therefore, the table demonstrates youth athlete’s daily protein requirements:
Body Weight KG
Daily Protein (g) per KG of Body Weight
53 - 62
60 - 70
67 - 78
74 - 87
Adapted from Bean, 2013
What time do I need to have protein?
This area is almost as important as how much protein you require, its so important in fact we’ve written a whole blog on the topic for you >> PROTEIN TIMING
Bean, A. (2013) Sports nutrition for young athletes. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Bagchi, D., Nair, S. and Sen, C. (2013) Nutrition and enhanced sports performance. London: Elsevier.
Department of Health. (1991)