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If you have aspirations of becoming a champion in a physical sport, or just live life to the fullest and be the best you can be, then you need to place much more emphasis on proteins

March, 2004

I have seen one too many endurance athletes who think they can function optimally by only supplementing with carbohydrates, forgetting the fact that most of the processes in the human body relies completely on the availability of proteins to work. And that does not even take into account that protein from muscle cells gets damaged through strenuous training, and thus needs replacing. If you sucked all the water out of a lean athletic body, more than 50% of what is left will be protein. Even the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood is protein. The structure of your genes and your brain cells are totally protein. All bodily functions, from the twitch of your toe to the creation of new muscle, are in total controlled by enzymes, and all enzymes are protein.

Protein goes far beyond lying around in muscle cells waiting for the odd occurrence of physical action. If you have aspirations of becoming a champion in a physical sport, or just live life to the fullest and be the best you can be, then you need to place much more emphasis on proteins.

Mistakes made through the intake of carbs and fats, are easily reversed and corrected, but mistakes made with protein, build right into your structure, and will hamper the reaction, and performance of the body for a long time. Radioisotope experiments have shown that 98% of the molecules in the body is replaced every year. And as we stated earlier, more than half of your dry weight is protein, which means that that has to be replaced periodically, allowing nothing yet for improvement on your old body, only maintenance. So the body you have today is almost completely built of what you ate over the last six months. If the proteins you consumed were poor quality, then all the structures in your body, muscles, bones, blood, teeth and so on will be poor quality. A junk food diet would produce a junkyard body. Old rule of the thumb: What you put in, is what you get out. And so many times we don't realize the difference, you get used to making do with this junk yard body of yours, because you do not know what it feels like driving a Porsche, but once you do, then you would know what it is all about.

Use the following formula to determine the source your calories should consist of:
70% Carbohydrates (of which 80% must be complex)

20% Protein

10% Fat
A woman weighing 57kg with 18% body fat has determined that she needs 1,828 calories daily. Based on the above formula, she would derive her calories from the following sources:
1,828 calories:
Carbohydrates 1277 calories = 319.3g
Protein 369 calories = 92.3g
Fat 182 calories = 20.0g
Do not make the mistake of thinking that if 60% of your diet should be carbohydrates, that 60% of the volume of what you eat must be carbs, it works in terms of calories, not weight or volume.

Now you may reason that the RDA for protein is 0.75g per kg body weight. And that is a fact that has stood for the past 50 years. Sure, and those tests were conducted on sedentary individuals that do not represent an active population with the urge to excel in physical activity, an urge to bloom with health and boil with energy. And also, they never allowed for protein losses in skin, sweat, or hemolysis (blood loss). Also no allowances were made for exercise and muscle growth. For example, loss of protein through sweat and the death of blood cells correlate directly with the amount of strenuous activity a person does. If a strenuous workout session consumes all available glycogen, the body will also eat away at its muscle tissue for fuel.

Later research done in various countries has indicated that when different levels of endurance activity is present, the RDA for protein increases to 1.8g / kg body weight. That's already almost 2.5 times the RDA. When strength training is involved, like short-event athletes or body building (weather recreational or professional), the need for protein increases to about 3g / kg. Studies in San Francisco have indicated that the lean muscle gains in a group consuming 2.8g / kg / day was a whopping 271% that of a group consuming only 1.4g/kg / day, while they followed the same training routine for 40 days. When Romanian weightlifters that were already near the top of their potential, increased their protein intake from 2.2g to 3.5 g / kg / day, they still gained a staggering 6% in muscle mass, and 5% in strength. They were eating protein at a level of about 450% of the RDA! So much for the RDA and active people then! For active people, we generally stick to 2g protein / kg of lean body mass.

How much is enough?
All good things in life have a limit, which means there is a limit to the amount of protein one must consume. We take 3 classes of athletes:

Class 1:
Demands strength first, then speed, then endurance. Bodybuilding, shot-put, javelin, powerlifting, discus, and men's gymnastics.
Class 2:
Demands speed first, then strength, then endurance. Rugby, sprints, jumping, boxing, wrestling, karate, judo, sprint, swimming, women's gymnastics, and ball games.
Class 3:
Endurance dominated sports. Middle- and long-distance running, triathlon, cross-country, cycling, and tennis.
Body Weight
Sports/Training Category
kg lbs Class1 Class2 Class3
40 88
88 74.8 61.6
50 110 110 93.5 77
60 132 132 112.2 92.4
70 154 154 130.9 107.8
80 176 176 149.6 123.2
90 198 198 168.3 138.6
100 220 220 187 154
110 242 242 205.7 169.4
120 264 264 224.4 184.8
130 286 286 243.1 200.2

Table 1
The above serves as a guideline of the daily protein requirements for different classes of athletes and indicates the amount of grams per kilogram of body weight needed per day. The demand for protein is created by the trauma caused by intense training. Should you consume more than what is needed per day, your body will break down the protein to amino acids, which are then converted to carbon dioxide and water and ammonia. The ammonia is then turned into urea, which is excreted by the kidneys.

Sources of Protein
As you know by now, protein is formed from amino acids. Many of the 21 amino acid can be made by the body from carbohydrate, but the nine essential amino acids must be provided by the diet. These are: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, and histidine. Arginine is also essential for children for healthy growth. Fact is that when any of the above is in short supply, it forms a weak link in the chain and hampers the optimal working of the others. Both whey protein concentrate and egg albumin, provides almost 100% of the necessary amino acid mix, followed by fish and meats at about 80%, and casein and soy at roughly 75%. Many other plant foods provides less than 50% of the amino acid spectrum. Unfortunately a 100g serving of lean steak, supplies only 25g of protein, accompanied by a 15g blob of fat! Remember, although it looks lean, the fat is contained within the meat and cannot be seen, but still it is present. A lean loin of pork would give you 23g protein and 29g fat. So it would seem that its hard to even score a draw between proteins and fats in this food group. Some skinless chicken and turkey are leaner, as indicated by Table 2. With the exception of soy, most vegetable food sources supplies proteins in the wrong ratios for human nutrition, especially if you are a physical activity driven individual. It needs to be combined with other vegetable food sources, within a decent time limit to fill the needed amino acid spectrum. You can calculate your protein needs from Table 2, which has proven a heavy task, especially for busy and individuals on a schedule.

Low fat foods, eat these
Food Type
(100 grams)
% Proteinto Fat
Egg whites (scrambled)
Shrimp (steamed)
Tuna (water packed)
Clams (steamed)
Mussels (steamed)
Turkey breast (skinless, roast)
Lobster (steamed)
Trout (grilled, dry)
Chicken breast (skinless grilled)
Crab (steamed)
High fat foods, try and avoid
Beefsteak (lean, grilled)
25 15 57 1.67
Pork Loin (roast)
23 29 46 0.79
Fatback bacon
12 70 17 0.17
Butter 0.5 82 16 0.01

Table 2
Carefully check out the last column relating proteins to fats. Obviously the higher the score, the better the source for a sports person Still it would be tough for an individual weighing 100kg, to consume 220g of pure protein without using supplements. He would more or less need the following every day:

2 x 170g tins of Tuna:
4 x Egg whites:
200g Turkey breast:
2 x 100g Chicken Breast:
100g Lobster:
This does not take into account any of the other food groups, which also needs to replenish carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals on a regular basis. Oh yes, and did I mention, the above must be spread out over 4 to 6 meals?

Protein Supplements - Protein supplements come in three forms:
Intact protein:
E.g. casein, they are polypeptides (many amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds)
Hydrolysates: Intact protein that has been digested to the extend that only two amino acids (dipeptides) or three amino acids (tripeptides) are bonded together.
Free-form amino acids: Separate amino acids not bonded together.
Contrary to what one would think, hydrolysates is the best absorbed, since the human body has developed a special transport system for hydrolysates, not available to free-form amino acids. The body retains hydrolysates better, it causes better nitrogen retention, aids recovery, and produces a growth hormone that stimulates muscle growth. When 2 or 3 amino acids are bonded together, they carry information valuable to the body, thereby getting preference.

Protein Supplements are mostly a blend of the following:
• Whey Protein Concentrate and Isolate
• Casein
• Egg Albumin
• Soy

The reason why a blend is preferable, is that it provides a variety of amino acids and a wide time span of absorption, thus continuously feeding cells.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)
Leucine, isoleucine and valine make up one third of muscle protein. The loss of BCAA's increase dramatically with both endurance and strength exercise. If these are not available in the body, it would be sourced from muscle protein, with the accompanying destruction of muscle. The best time to take BCAA is 1-2 hours prior to your workout, which spares muscle BCAA and testosterone, and also increases testosterone after training.

As a guideline to determine your intake of BCAA's, see Table 3:

Protein Supplements - Protein supplements come in three forms:
Body Weight (kg)

Exercise releases great amounts of Glutamine and Alanine, much larger than any other amino acid. This necessitates replenishment, either in free form or as part of a protein supplement.

Science has provided us with all the necessary information needed to build an excellent, balance meal replacement shake to provide our bodies with the best quality proteins and amino acids needed to function optimal under the strain of resistance exercise. It has also made it easier to feed our bodies more frequent than before, aiding in absorption, and combating destruction from shortages.

The range designed by USN allows the user to determine the application for a specific item, and then use it to supply that specific demand.

—Article sponsored by USN - Ultimate Sports Nutrition

USN products guide
  • 100% Whey Protein - high-protein low-carb supplement (Individuals wanting to gain lean muscle while rapidly reducing body fat)
  • Pure Protein - low-carb, high-protein supplement (Training individuals wanting to gain muscle)
  • Muscle Fuel Mass - supplement for those finding it difficult to gain mass (hard training individuals wanting to gain muscle)
  • Muscle Fuel Low Carb - low-carb, high-protein supplement (lean muscle growth coupled with fat-loss, gains in strength, endurance and performance)

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