Wer regelmäßig trainiert braucht mehr Eiweiß

Those who train regularly need more protein

Those who exercise regularly do a lot of good for their bodies. A protein-rich diet plays a vital role in achieving continuous success. Because proteins are real all-rounders. Here is everything you need to know: 

Protein and sport

What you eat every day not only affects your health and well-being but also helps you to get the most out of your body. With your daily food, you take in vitamins, minerals, energy-supplying macronutrients, fats, carbohydrates, and of course, protein. The decisive point here:

  • While carbohydrates and fats primarily act as energy suppliers in the body, protein serves us as a building material.
  • Its main task is to build up and maintain our body substance. Mostly if you train hard and reduce carbohydrates, your body uses protein to provide sufficient energy.

The multiple tasks of protein

  • Protein serves your body as a building material for enzymes and hormones.
  • It is an essential structural element for your muscle fibers, tendons, cartilage, bones, skin, hair, and nails.
  • Your immune system needs proteins to produce antibodies.
  • Without protein, your blood is not able to form clotting factors. They protect the body from bleeding and blood loss.
  • It is important for the transport function in the blood.
  • Without protein it is very difficult to build muscles.
  • Sufficient protein helps decisively with regeneration after sport.

The power stuff for our body

Most people do not think about it any further. They eat a meal and then let the organism do the processing. But especially when it comes to protein, it is worth taking a closer look inside our body: Because proteins are the basic building blocks of all living things. The human protein stock is subject to constant build-up, breakdown, and conversion. The dietary protein itself consists of individual amino acids. Science distinguishes between two main groups and a subgroup:

  • Essential amino acids: the body cannot synthesize them itself, so we have to supply them from outside. And they are necessary, i.e., vital, because they are involved in countless functions and processes in the body.
  • Non-essential amino acids: the body can make them from other amino acids in the body.
  • Branched-chain amino acids: They have names like leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are interesting for athletes because they are mainly metabolized in the muscles.

Protein is essential for the athlete's body

Why protein is so vital for regular sportspeople can be easily explained: Whenever you do sport intensively enough, the working muscles inhibit the so-called protein synthesis. In other words, your body not only converts less protein into amino acids. It also breaks down protein. This leads to slight, mostly harmless damage to muscle proteins. Also, protein-containing components of the immune system are broken down, leading to a weakening of the immune system. Science calls this phase an "open window" because viruses and bacteria have an incredibly easy time in this period to overcome our defense system. But that is not all: on top of everything else, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisone. The brain registers this excess of cortisone and tries to balance it out. And does what? Exactly, it falls back on the protein metabolism. 

Sport und Eiweißbedarf
People who exercise regularly have an increased protein requirement (ⓒ: adpic)

Proteins are an important energy reserve

If you are one of those athletes who eat a low-carbohydrate diet, you will do your training session with empty muscle glycogen stores. The body then has no choice but to use the body's own proteins as energy reserves. After a training session, it is the proteins that bring everything back into balance. Above all, the amino acid glutamine. Because with the help of protein, you can optimally support the regeneration processes that start immediately after the training. In addition to protein, you should also make sure you have a sufficient supply of carbohydrates.

Protein makes the muscles grow

The combination of a diet rich in protein and carbohydrates leads to an increase in insulin levels and has a strong muscle-building and regenerative effect after training. The dietary protein serves to repair the muscle components, enzymes, immunoglobulins, and other functional structures. The body uses carbohydrates to replenish liver and muscle glycogen stores. At the same time, the immune system is running at full speed. With a sufficient supply of protein, you can optimally support your muscles. Important: Depending on how well trained you are, how hard your workout was, and how well you eat afterward, the regeneration processes can last up to 48 hours. An increased protein intake during these 48 hours will make your muscles grow.

The optimum quantity for each type

If you do weight training, you should ideally eat between 1, 6, and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day. That is at least twice the amount initially recommended. If you are an endurance athlete, the daily amount varies between 1.0 and 1.6 grams a day. This depends on the intensity of your training. With aerobic exercise (i.e., when there is always enough oxygen available to the body), the requirement is naturally lower. With anaerobic exercise (i.e., when you have an oxygen debt), the demand is higher. The daily need for play and interval sports is between 1.4 and 1.7 grams per kg body weight. Very important: Your individual protein requirement depends on your goals: Do you want to build muscle mass or just maintain it? If you're going to build muscle mass, you need more protein. If you wish to keep your muscle mass, you need a little less.

Krafttraining

Strength training

Der Eiweißbedarf liegt bei 1, 6 bis 2, 0 Milligramm pro Kilogramm Körpergewicht täglich.

Spielsportarten

Team sports

Der Eiweißbedarf liegt bei 1, 4 bis 1, 7 Milligramm pro Kilogramm Körpergewicht täglich.

Ausdauersport und Eiweiß

Endurance sports

Der Eiweißbedarf liegt bei 1, 4 bis 1, 7 Milligramm pro Kilogramm Körpergewicht täglich.

The type of diet also plays a role

Your protein requirements also depend on your other diet. If you eat a low-carbohydrate diet or reduce your total energy intake, your protein requirements will also increase. This is because part of the protein in your diet is used to stabilize your blood sugar level or directly provide energy after being converted into glucose. When the total energy intake is high, the proteins ingested are more efficiently utilized. To stabilize muscle mass or build muscle mass, the proportion of dietary protein must be higher when energy intake is low. A recent study shows that if energy intake is strictly limited, the requirement can and should increase to 2 grams or more per kg body weight per day.

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