chapter  6
16 Pages

Protein Needs of Masters Athletes

For hundreds and perhaps thousands of years there have been many opinions put forth regarding the optimal dietary protein intake required to support maximal athletic performance. There is some evidence that Olympic athletes in ancient Greek times were encouraged to consume large amounts of meat to support muscle function. It is currently well known that carbohydrate and fat provides most of the energy for muscle metabolism during exercise [1]. For decades, many endurance athletes focused their nutrition on a high carbohydrate intake with little regard for the quality and quantity of protein. During this period, there remained the belief that high amounts of dietary protein were required to promote optimal muscle mass accretion during strength/resistance exercise. Certainly, the anecdotes of body builders and power lifters eating huge amounts of protein and the fact that the nutrition supplement industry is hugely invested in the sale of various protein supplements attest to this belief. Exclusive of protein supplements, we have found that body builders traditionally have protein intakes at approximately three times national dietary recommended intake levels in spite of a requirement that was only marginally above that of sedentary individuals [2].