As triathlon season is now in full swing, we need to ensure we are fueling our bodies with adequate and balanced energy (food intake), in order to feel our best, and perform at our peak. Last month our Nutrition Energy newsletter covered carbohydrate needs for endurance athletes (
). This month we will focus on protein. Our immune system, muscle repair, and lean muscle gains all depend on meeting our individual protein needs. Protein sources contain amino-acids that "feed" our muscle tissue for continuous rebuilding/repair. Without proper protein needs being met, we will it repair and recover our bodies following training sessions and races, and injury and illness may be more likely to occur.
We all know that meeting our needs while training is not always easy (or as fun as it sounds!). When training heavily for a big race day, our brain may go into survival mode saying, "What can I grab that's quick and easy and will keep me satisfied?" Without thinking we may miss key macronutrients our bodies need to keep training and recovering. A few things to consider in terms of protein needs include body size, training volume, muscle/strength gain goals if any, and recovery time between training sessions.
So...do you know how much protein you need?
The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for protein consumption is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For endurance athletes we recommend between 1.4-1.8 g/kg of body weight.
To determine what you need:
Divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2 (this will give you your weight in kg)
Multiply your weight in kg by 1.4 to 1.6 if you are training for up to 1/2 IM or 1/2 marathon or up to 10 hours/week. Multiply your weight in kg by 1.6 to 1.8 if you're training for longer events
Example for a 65kg athlete: 65kg x 1.5 ~ 100 grams of protein required per day
Be mindful to spread those 100 grams of protein throughout the day. Aim to consume 25% of your protein needs at each meal and 25% post workout.
Here is a list of high protein foods that can help with fueling your body with proper nutrition:
- Eggs - 6g pro per egg
- Swiss chees - 8g pro per 1 oz
- Cottage cheese - 14g per 1/2 C
- Chicken Breast - 24g pro per 3oz serving
- Sockeye Salmon - 23g per 3oz serving
- Navy Beans - 20g per 1 Cup serving
- Peanut Butter - 8g per 2 Tbs serving
- Tofu - 12g pro per 3 oz serving
- Edamame - 8 g pro per 1/2 serving
- Quinoa - 8g pro per 1 cup serving
While most of the time real foods are best, it is sometimes necessary and more convenient to take in a recovery bar or shake post workout to ensure you get in adequate protein.
- Gatorade Recover Protein Shake - 20g pro per drink
- PROBAR BASE®- 20g pro per bar
- Clif Builder's Bar- 20g pro per bar
- EPIC Bars - has bison, uncured bacon - 11g pro per bar
We chose this month's recipe because it is a dish we get asked about often by our clients. Everyone seems to love Pad Thai...but restaurant versions are generally very high in fat (even for Triathlete's). This healthier version is a great post-race recipe that packs in the protein, carbs and flavor! Meals with a good balance of protein/carbs helps repair muscle damage caused during races as well as restock glycogen to help you recover faster and come back stronger for your next race.
Healthy version of Chicken Pad Thai from Triathelete
- Time to cook 30 mins - serves 4
2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized strips
8 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
8 ounces flat rice noodles
2 Tablespoons chili paste or chili garlic sauce (Sambal works well)
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
8 ounces bean sprouts, divided
1 jalapeno, sliced
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup raw peanuts
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Thai Basil and Cilantro
Crushed red pepper to taste
2 limes, cut into quarters lengthwise
Toast peanuts for the topping in a dry pan over medium heat till golden brown. Set aside to cool and chop coarsely
Lightly coat the bottom of a large, shallow sauté pan with vegetable oil and cook chicken thighs over medium heat with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. (If you're using tofu, add it here.)
3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the sesame oil.
Once the chicken is nearly cooked through, add the egg mixture to the pan and scramble until dry.
Set aside until you are ready to plate the noodles
While the chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the rice noodles as directed on the package. Drain the noodles and toss them with a little sesame oil or water to prevent them from sticking
whisk the chili paste or chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce together in a large bowl
Add noodles, 1/2 the bean sprouts, jalapeño, and green onions and toss to coat
Plate the noodle mixture and top with the chicken/egg mixture.
Finish with adding additional bean sprouts, fresh Thai basil/cilantro, toasted peanuts, crushed red pepper, and lime wedges
11. Bon Appetit!