Demystifying Sports Nutrition

A diet that is laden with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables will slow the aging process and its effects on performance. Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor.com

Protein Is Essential–Large Quantities Are Not

“A lot of athletes think that somehow eating more protein is a safety valve that’ll protect them,” says Benardot. “The cellular capacity for nutrients is finite and whatever you overfill will dissipate and get stored as fat or burned as a fuel source.”

Women and men need the same amount of protein—about 15 percent of total daily calories, or roughly 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. Parsing out protein consumption over the course of the day allows the body to maximize its metabolism and use it for building and repairing muscles.

While endurance athletes tend to avoid bulking up like body builders, they might believe that chowing down on monster protein bars or eating a massive steak in one sitting will increase their lean muscle mass. However, Benardot notes that it’s the extra calories, not excessive protein, that supports an increase in muscle mass.

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