Access to food is a basic human right, vital for good health. But eating a balanced diet is all about getting good nutrition, having more energy and healthy body which is essential for a person’s well-being. Each category of food such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fat need to be consumed in a particular ratio to maintain the proper functioning of the body. But sportsmen fall into a slightly different category especially when it comes to food.
Recent studies have proven that an increase in protein consumption is an important factor for achieving substantial increase in muscle strength and muscle mass, it curbs age-related muscle loss and accelerates the protein synthesis response in muscles when consumed by evenly distributing across all meals.
Intense physical activities of sportsmen such as running, jumping, swimming long distances or lifting weights, make them expend more energy than the average person. Such exercise causes the proteins in the muscle to be broken down ultimately causing muscle soreness, reduced strength and function of the muscle. Since muscle health is a crucial determinant of a sportsman’s performance, the body needs adequate-protein to recover from this damage. Therefore, the net protein mass should be positive i.e. the net protein synthesis should exceed the net protein breakdown.
Proteins have countless functions in the human body which include growth and repair; the most important function for sports performance. Sportsmen are more prone to injuries in the multi-stress conditions of goal-directed, frequent, intensive, and prolonged exercise routines which makes it necessary for monitoring the intake of proteins. Protein boosts glycogen storage, reduces muscle soreness, and promotes muscle repair. Therefore, regular protein is mandatory to secure an efficient supply of essential amino acids. Protein needs increase along with the increasing intensity and duration of athletic performance. Just as technical expertise and training are keystones improving athletic performance, likewise proteins are equally crucial for success.
In recent years, understanding the role of dietary protein in muscle building and recovery has grown vastly. There are over 10,000 different proteins in the body, the type of protein in the diet that sportsmen need to take note of is essential. Research shows that simply consuming enough protein will not optimize muscle repair and synthesis because not all types of protein are equally beneficial.
To utilize the protein we eat, they must be digested properly to break down into crucial building blocks i.e. amino acids. Later these amino acids combine in various ways to synthesize muscles, bone, tendons, and other tissues. As most of the plant proteins lack one or more essential amino acids, animal sources must be combined in the diet to provide the highest quality proteins for sportsmen.
Several kinds of research have allowed us to refine the list of Amino acids when it comes to building muscle. One specific amino acid, leucine, stimulates muscle synthesis more effectively than other high-quality proteins, especially when consumed after exercise. As a result, whey protein recovery supplements have become extremely popular. In addition, Ornithine, Tyrosine, Isoleucine, and valine have positive effects on muscle strength, endurance, and exercise power.
The American College of Sports Medicine have recommended protein intake of 1.2–1.7 g/kg/day for endurance and strength-trained athletes. Likewise, protein supplements vary depending on the intensity, duration, and type of activity that sportsmen perform. For optimal muscle repair and synthesis, protein intake should be spaced throughout the day and after workouts along with frequent training which further improves the performance of sportsmen.
Hence, protein plays a key role in sportsmen’s diet plan. However, there is a need to ensure that they are also meeting needs for carbohydrates and fat, not just protein.