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PROTEIN AND EXERCISE: THE VEGAN ALLY FOR BETTER ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

By Anastasios Vamvakis, Clinical / Sports Dietitian-Nutritionist

Protein is the main building block of all body cells and the most essential nutrient in the human diet. Providing energy (4 kcal / gr of protein) and contributing to the shielding of the immune system (the body’s natural defense), the need for protein intake on a daily basis is scientifically proven. However, this need varies depending on the age and metabolic conditions of each individual.

Population

Daily Protein Needs (gr / kg BW)

Notes


Infants, children, adolescents0,83 - 1,31Depending on age
Adults0,83With low physical activity
Pregnancy1gr on the 1st trimester, 9gr on the 2nd, 28gr on the 3rdThe gr of protein are absolute values, in addition to the basic needs.
Breastfeeding19gr on the 1st half, 13gr for the rest periodThe gr of protein are absolute values, in addition to the basic needs.
Elderly (> 60 years)1,0
People with mild physical activity1,0
People with increased physical activity(1,2-1,4) - 2,0In resistance sports with low energy intake, protein needs reach 2.3-3.0 gr / kg BW.

BW: Body Weight

Should those who exercise consume more protein?

Participation in physical activity / sports increases an individual’s protein needs, as the rate of protein synthesis and catabolism increases. While a well-thought and balanced diet can suffice the protein needs of physically active people, those needs are often not met due to lack of organization, insufficient nutrition support, high training requirements and a busy daily schedule. Thus, in addition to the need of consuming foods rich in protein of high biological value, protein supplementation is an important nutritional step to support athletic performance, accelerate muscle recovery and increase muscle tissue, bones and tendons.

One of the most crucial criteria for selecting a source of complementary protein intake is the coverage of essential amino acids. The increased protein needs of athletes, in combination with the vegetarian or vegan or plant-based diet profile that more and more of them choose lately, due to the positive effect on health and the environment, classify vegan proteins (such as AMINO ANIMO organic proteins) as the ideal choice. The absence of processed and artificial substances is also important, as well as the production process, in order to ensure the best quality and nutritional value.

SOURCES
1. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22150425/
2. Role of amino acids in the translational control of protein synthesis in mammals. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15659336/
3. EFSA sets population reference intake for protein. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/120209
4. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26920240
5. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
6. How diet can impact gut microbiota to promote or endanger health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6005665/
7. A plant-based diet in overweight individuals in a 16-week randomized clinical trial: metabolic benefits of plant protein. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6221888/
8. The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3698202/
9. Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Protein, amino acid metabolism and therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2760315/
10. Protein, weight management, and satiety. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18469287/
11. Effect of Replacing Animal Protein with Plant Protein on Glycemic Control in Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690061/
12. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27886704/

Distribute the protein in smaller quantities (0.25gr of protein / kg of body weight) in each meal of the day, at intervals of 3-4 hours.

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