Last month, we discussed the importance of eating vegetables. This month we will steer our focus to another key area of nutrition: protein.
The Canada Food Guide for Healthy Living suggests eating two to three servings of protein daily. If one assumes an adequate caloric intake, this may work out to 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For a 140 pound individual that works out to 51 grams daily. For sedentary individuals this may be enough dietary protein but for active individuals those requirements go up substantially.
According to Baechle and Earle in Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, protein requirements of aerobic endurance athletes can go up to 1.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Those who train by doing resistance work can have requirements up to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight. Baechle and Earle state, “Because most athletes do not fall neatly into one category, a general recommendation of 1.5 to 2.0 g/kg of body weight ensures adequate protein intake.” That translates to an intake between 95 and 127 grams for that same 140 pound individual.
If one follows a vegetarian diet those requirements go up yet again as plant based sources are not as well absorbed as animal sources. An additional 10% of quality, plant based protein sources are recommended.
Some good choices for these higher protein requirements are lean chicken, turkey, a variety of fish, lean beef or bison and plant sources such as tofu, tempeh, edamame and some legumes.
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