This New Blog post from Dr. Jared Wilson, DC, MS at Gaitway Chiropractic in Spokane, Washington focuses on answering the question of how much protein should an athlete intake depending on the type of exercise, their state of training, and their gender. Dr. Jared Wilson blogs about chiropractic health and other relevant health news. He is an expert in musculoskeletal injuries and functional rehab. He holds a Chiropractic Doctorate degree and a Masters of Exercise and Sports Science degree.
Dating back as far as Ancient Greece and the Olympics, athletes have added protein to their diets to modify the effects of training on physique and performance. Conventional thought held by many athletes and coaches is that very high dietary protein intakes are needed to maximize protein metabolism within a muscle leading to faster repair and hypertrophy, the increase in cell size. But what does the current research suggest is the adequate amount of dietary protein intake for differing forms of exercise as well as the gender and performance level of the athlete?
In this blog I will try to provide the answer in a comprehensive yet simple review on this hotly debated topic.
Generally speaking, most athletes engaging in resistance exercise desire to increase their muscle mass, strength, and power. Whereas, endurance athletes are looking to augment longer duration output, such as increased maximal oxygen consumption, or reduce body fat.
Now before I jump right into discussing adequate protein intakes for resistance exercise, I want to address endurance athletes first because even these athletes need to pay attention. Multiple studies have shown that endurance exercise increases the breakdown and utilization of protein for energy as you increase the intensity of the exercise and depending on the state of training of the athlete. A recent study by McKenzie et al evaluated protein usage in both male and female athletes during a 38-day high intensity endurance training program. They found that:
Other studies looking at athletes engaging in low to moderate intensity endurance exercise programs indicate that these athletes need the same amount of dietary protein intake or only slightly above that of a sedentary individual.
So how much protein should an athlete consume given the intensity of their endurance workouts?
Recreational endurance athletes who are exercising 4 to 5 times per week for 30 minutes below moderate to high intensities need about 0.80-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This is the same for sedentary men and women.
Moderate intensity endurance athletes who are exercising 4 to 5 times per week for 45 to 60 minutes need about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Elite high intensity endurance athletes (regular marathon runners and triathletes) need about 1.4-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
And in general, dietary protein recommendations for female endurance athletes may be 10-20% lower than males.
Surprisingly, these recommended values are much lower than the average protein intakes of most male and female endurance athletes. The typical male and female endurance athlete today consumes about 1.8 and 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, respectively.
So now that I’ve summarized the adequate protein intakes for endurance athletes let’s switch to protein requirements for resistance training athletes. First off, resistance exercise is different than endurance training in that a primary end goal is muscle hypertrophy or the increase in muscle size. Therefore it would only make sense that protein intake will need to be in excess that of basic sedentary requirements to provide the building blocks for muscle repair and growth, right? Well what does the research say?
A study way back in 1988 by Tarnopolsky et al calculated how much protein intake it would take to match protein metabolism in 6 well-trained bodybuilders compared to 6 sedentary people. Surprisingly, they found that only 12% more protein intake was needed for the bodybuilders. Even more surprisingly, the bodybuilders were regularly consuming protein amounts of 2.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day which if you look back above you’ll find that this is 170% more the recommendations for sedentary people of 1.0 grams. (Also remember that recreational endurance athletes and sedentary individuals are at the same recommendation.)
Now this study was looking at resistance athletes at steady state given the bodybuilders had at least 2 years of consistent training. The recommended protein intake for steady state resistance athletes is 1.0-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
What about people in the early stages of resistance training? Do they need more or less protein intake?
4 years later Lemon et al answered this question by calculating the estimated protein requirement during the early stages of resistance training. They had 12 young men participate in 2 months of resistance training and split them into two groups having them intake either 1.4 or 2.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. The men exercised 6 days per week for 2 hours each day. The weights were set to 70-85% the maximum weight that they could only do 1 repetition of. They found that the estimated protein requirement during this early stage of resistance training was 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Would you be surprised if I told you that the average resistance athlete today is consuming far more their needed protein requirements regardless of their stage of training in resistance exercise? Probably not since I’ve already told you this is true for two other situations above. The average resistance athlete today consumes 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This is 25% more than the amount needed for early resistance training athletes (1.6 grams) and about 80% more for steady stage resistance training athletes (1.1 grams).
At this point I might be hearing a pour of outrage from some athletes believing they still need more protein to meet the demands of their resistance training, usually from the intense football or rugby player. So let’s look at the protein requirements for football and rugby athletes involved in weight-training and high-intensity sprinting and power activities as evaluated by the research of Tarnopolsky et al in 1992. They found that the protein requirement for this group at the highest was only 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This is only slightly higher than those athletes who are early on in their resistance training.
So to recap, see below the listed protein requirements for the various athlete type measured in grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
I know this is a lot of information but I hope you found this blog to be informative. Perhaps you will save some money on protein supplements or foods by knowing these recommendations. If you have any questions about how Dr. Wilson’s expertise in sports medicine could help you or have other Chiropractic questions, please call Gaitway Chiropractic in north Spokane at (509) 466-1366, request an appointment online, or come by the clinic at 8611 N Division St, Ste A, Spokane, WA 99208.
Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. J Appl Physiol 1992;73:767-75.
McKenzie S, Phillips SM, Carter Sl, Lowther S, Gibala MJ, Tarnopolsky MA. Endurance exercise training attenuates leucine oxidation and BCOAD activation during exercise in humans. Am J Physiol endocrinol Metab 2000; 278:E580-7.
Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. J Appl Physiol 1988;64:187-93.
Tarnopolsky MA, Atkinson SA, MacDougall JD, Chesley A, Phillips S, Schwarcz HP. Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes. J Apply Physiol 1992;73:1986-95.
This New Blog post from Dr. Jared Wilson, DC, MS at Gaitway Chiropractic in Spokane, Washington looks to the research to answer if the posture or position taken when performing the resisted side-stepping exercise matters when trying to maximize gluteus medius activity and minimize tensor fascia lata (TFL) activity. Dr. Jared Wilson blogs about chiropractic health and other relevant health news. He is an expert in musculoskeletal injuries and functional rehab. He holds a Chiropractic Doctorate degree and a Masters of Exercise and Sports Science degree.
Hip abductor weakness is a common problem with people suffering from a variety of hip conditions such as femoroacetabular impingement, iliotibial band syndrome, and patellofemoral pain. It can even contribute to chronic ankle sprains. Weakness of the gluteus medius muscle will usually cause excess compensation from the TFL. Allowing the TFL to be recruited continually can lead to gluteus medius atrophy.
Corrective exercises can increase gluteus medius strength and improve muscle firing patterns. Usually exercises involving a variation of resisted hip abduction are given. However, it is important for clinicians prescribing these exercises to be aware of excessive firing from the TFL when their patient is performing them.
A recent study by Selkowitz et al (2013) looked at gluteus medius and TFL activation during 11 different exercises. The researchers used fine-wire electromyography (EMG) to determine the maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of both the gluteus medius and TFL with each exercise. Their report showcased 5 exercises that activated the gluteus maximus and medius muscles without getting as much unwanted TFL activation. Those exercises included the clam exercise, single-leg bridge, hip extension (quadruped) with knee straight and knee bent, and the resisted side-stepping exercise. Specifically regarding the resisted side-stepping exercise, they found significantly lower TFL activation (13.1% MVIC) compared to gluteus medius activation (32.2% MVIC).
Bottom line is resisted side-stepping should be included in any corrective exercise program designed to strengthen the hip abductors. But does the position or posture you take when performing the resisted side-stepping exercise matter?
A study by Berry et al (2015) addressed this question. They had all 24 participants perform the exercise with an elastic resistance band around their ankles in both standing and squatting postures. Like the Selkowitz et al study, these researchers also used fine-wire EMG to determine the MVIC of the gluteus medius and TFL. Interestingly, they found that the EMG activity of the muscles being tested were actually higher in the stance leg rather than the moving one. They also saw that the EMG activity in the gluteus medius was significantly higher in the squat position than the upright position while activity in the TFL was lower in the squat position compared to the upright position.
So to answer the question…yes! It does matter what position or posture you take when performing the resisted side-stepping exercise. Performing the resisted side-stepping exercise should be done in a squat position rather than an upright one.
But how does this happen? Willcox and Burden (2013) gave a biomechanical explanation for the decreased TFL activity in the squat position. In the squat position the center of mass of the trunk is forward compared to the hip. This creates a hip flexion position and thus reduces the need to activate more muscles involved in hip flexion. Since the TFL acts also as a hip flexor in addition to being a hip abductor, the squat position would reduce the need to activate the TFL in order to stabilize the hip and pelvis. Increased TFL activation would be counterproductive.
I hope you found this blog to be informative. If you have any questions about how chiropractic care could help you, please call Gaitway Chiropractic in north Spokane at (509) 466-1366, request an appointment online, or come by the clinic at 8611 N Division St, Ste A, Spokane, WA 99208.
Selkowitz DM, Beneck GJ, Powers CM. Which exercises target the gluteal muscles while minimizing activation of the tensor fascia lata? electromyographic assessment using fine-wire electrodes. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013;43(2):54-64.
Berry, Justin W., Theresa S. Lee, Hanna D. Foley, and Cara L. Lewis. "Resisted Side-Stepping: The Effect of Posture on Hip Abductor Muscle Activation." J Orthop Sports Phys Ther Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (2015): 1-30.
Willcox EL, Burden AM. The influence of varying hip angle and pelvis position on 531 muscle recruitment patterns of the hip abductor muscles during the clam exercise. J 532 Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013;43(5):325-31.
Image: Photographer unknown. (2015, August 6). Participant side-stepping to the right in the squat posture [digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.jospt.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2519/jospt.2015.5888
Dr. Jared Wilson, DC, MS
Dr. Jared Wilson blogs about chiropractic health and other relevant health news. He is an expert in musculoskeletal injuries and functional rehab. He holds a Chiropractic Doctorate degree and a Masters degree in Exercise and Sports Science.