An optimal nutrition plan for any athlete needs to take into account the type(s) of training being done and how often, any injury or illness, whether the athlete’s body is still growing and forming, other lifestyle factors such as what you do for a living (sedentary vs. a physically active type of work environment), plus whether the athlete would like to lose or gain weight.
Another lifestyle factor to consider is your perceived level of stress. If you are under stress and creating high levels of cortisol you will be inhibiting protein synthesis and stimulating gluconeogenesis creating a catabolic state and breaking down muscle.
In order to ensure an adequate amino acid pool available to build and repair muscle, endurance athletes need to consume 1.2 – 2 g protein/kg body weight while strength and power athletes need to consume 1.4 – 2 g protein/kg body weight. Exceeding 2 g protein/kg body weight could put too high a nitrogen load on the kidneys. It was previously thought that the body could only absorb up to 40 grams of protein at one time. New research suggests differently. Different types of protein have different rates of absorption, the best being whey at 8 – 10 g/hour.
The amino acid, leucine, seems to be the limiting factor in building and repairing muscle. Dairy products, beef, poultry, seafood, pork, peanuts, beans, lentils, and soybeans are foods highest in leucine.
It is recommended to include protein at every meal and snack, always eating before and after every training session. Optimizing carbohydrate intake will also ensure not going into gluconeogenesis – creating glucose from protein. We want to maintain an optimal amino acid pool and a positive nitrogen balance so we are in an anabolic state, creating muscle.