Protein And Young Athletes: Too Much Becomes Fat And Paleo Can Lessen Performance

Protein is an essential part of an adolescent athlete's diet because it helps build, maintain, and repair muscles and other body tissues. However, eating large amounts of protein won’t make someone stronger or build bigger muscles. Instead, excess protein can have negative consequences, including a dehydration or weight gain.

Protein supplements claim to increase muscle mass, speed, endurance, and fat loss, and/or decrease recovery time. But athletes need to know that the calories from excessive protein will be stored as fat, not as muscle.The claims lack scientific evidence and are unreliable.A healthy athlete can get the protein and other nutrients he or she needs from foods without taking supplements.

The popular gluten-free, dairy-free diets such as the Paleo diet can actually lessen athletic performance. They are high in protein and fat, and do not provide adequate nutrients, such as calcium, or carbohydrate to fuel muscles adequately.

Protein is found in meats (beef, pork, poultry, fish), nuts, beans, eggs, peanut or other nut butters, and dairy products. A good reference for an athlete’s healthy plate is based on the MyPlate model, which promotes three-quarters of your plate being carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains or starches) and one-quarter of your plate being protein.

Leslie Cox, MS, RD, CSP, LD, CNSC03 November 2015

Leslie Cox, MS, RD, CSP, LD, CNSC Leslie started her career at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta then joined the Navy as an officer in the Medical Service Corps. She served as a Dietitian at Read more

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