Protein is an important macronutrient that is essential to the diet. Protein is made up of amino acids, which help build, maintain and repair our tissues. Not all amino acids can be produced by the body, so it is important that we consume protein sources in our diet. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein for men and women 19 years and older is 0.8 grams per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight1.
For pregnant women, the recommended amount is 1.1 g/kg of body weight and for lactating women it is 1.3 g/kg1. For example, a 140 pound female would need approximately 51 grams of protein per day. To calculate this, first determine body weight in kilograms: 140/2.2= 63.6 kg, and then multiply this by 0.8 g/kg so that 63.6 kg x 0.8 g/kg equals 50.9 g.
Do those who exercise regularly need more protein? Yes! Exercise causes muscle damage which means that physically active individuals require more protein than the RDA. For endurance trained athletes, such as runners, cross-country skiers, cyclists, etc., the recommendation is 1.2-1.4 g/kg of body weight2. As for strength trained athletes, such as weight lifters, gymnasts, etc., the recommendation is 1.2-1.7 g/kg of body weight2. For more information, be sure to consult with a registered dietician.
After your next work out, try a protein shake to rebuild your tissues and aid the recovery process. Well.ca has a wide variety of protein powders and amino acid supplements; I suggest a protein powder containing the amino acid leucine, such as Designer Whey Protein or NOW Foods Branch Chain Amino Acids supplement. For those who do not consume animal products, I suggest soy protein powder.
ANDI MCHUGH RECEIVED HER MASTER OF EDUCATION DEGREE (SPECIALIZATION IN EXERCISE SCIENCE) FROM AUBURN UNIVERSITY-MONTGOMERY. SHE HAS BEEN AN AUTHOR FOR MANUSCRIPTS SUBMITTED TO THE JOURNAL OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING RESEARCH AND THE JOURNAL OF EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY. SHE IS ALSO A CERTIFIED HEALTH AND FITNESS SPECIALIST AND KINESIOLOGIST WHO ENJOYS RUNNING, GROUP FITNESS, AND PLAYING SOCCER!
1Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes: the essential guide to nutrient requirements. Washington: National Academies Press, 2006.
2 American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada. Joint Position Statement: Nutrition and athletic performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2010.