Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tip of the week by Nancy Clark and Gloria Averbuch – Protein for Soccer: An Update

At the 27th annual sports nutrition conference sponsored by SCAN, the Sports and Cardiovascualr Nutritionists’ group of the American Dietetic Association, Dr. Stuart Phillips, PhD, a Professor of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Toronto, presented the following tips:

• While the US government’s current RDA of 0.8 g protein/kg body weight is deemed “adequate” to prevent protein loss in the average person, Dr. Phillips pointed out the American College of Sport Medicine, the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada agree that athletes need 1.2 to 1.7 g protein/kg to optimize muscular development. Most young men and women generally consume 1.4 g and 1.2 g protein/kg/day respectively. Hence, athelts do not need to consume “extra” protein because they generally consume more than they actually require.

• Consuming 20 grams of protein-rich food after resistance exercise is plenty to optimize the rate of muscle synthesis. Athletes should continue to eat evenly spaced protein-containing meals and snacks throughout the day.

• Both milk and meat are good sources of leucine, the amino acid that triggers protein synthesis. Cows’ milk has more leucine than soymilk, hence is more effective for stimulating muscle growth.

• The highest rate of protein synthesis is 3 to 5 hours post-exercise. This presents a question: should athletes who workout twice a day plan to avoid exercising in that time frame?

• Research with obese people on a reducing diet indicates they lost more fat and less muscle when given a high dairy diet (30% of calories from dairy protein) as compared to standard diet with low dairy (15% of calories). Both groups lost the same amount of total body weight.
• Dr. Phillips deems milk to be as effective as whey supplements. Both skim and whole milk are equally effective.

Nancy Clark is co-author with Gloria Averbuch of Food Guide for Soccer, a popular guide for parents and soccer players who want to eat to win. Available at