How Much Protein You REALLY Need

A 130 lb. marathon running female would need between 78 and 91 grams of protein every day:

130 x 0.6 = 78 grams of protein/day

130 x 0.7 = 91 grams of protein/day

This breaks down to only about 26 grams of protein per meal, if she eats 3 meals a day (really, most people are eating pre- and/or post-workout snacks). Think about eating some protein at each meal and snack (beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, fish, meat, hummus, and milk).

Example of protein in meals:

Meal Food Grams of protein per meal
Breakfast 2 whole eggs, scrambled

1 handful of spinach

¼ cup part-skim mozzarella

1 banana

23 g
Snack ¼ cup almonds

1 apple

7 g
Lunch 4 cups of mixed greens

Chopped bell peppers

1/2 cup black beans

¼ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

17 g
Snack 1 cup Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp honey

½ cup blueberries

22 g
Dinner 1 cup brown rice, cooked

4 oz. grilled chicken breast

1 cup steamed broccoli

40 g

Focus on balance

You can prevent muscle breakdown and maximize strength gains by optimizing your nutrition plan throughout the entire day. Instead of focusing on “protein, protein, protein,” you should be providing your body with the “building blocks” it needs for muscle growth by eating a balanced meal or snack with protein and carbohydrates every 3-4 hours.You may have heard of the “window of opportunity” – eating a protein/carbohydrate-rich snack 30-60 minutes after your workout can aid in recovery and promote muscle repair.

If you’re struggling in your workouts, check your carbohydrate intake – if you’re cutting too many calories and carbohydrates out of your diet, your performance could suffer because you’re not fueling your muscles with the carbohydrates needed to work hard.

The Forgotten R – REST

Don’t forget how important REST can be in your performance plan. Without rest days, you aren’t giving your body enough time to repair from your last workout. By fueling your body correctly and taking time to rest, your body will be able to recover properly and you will ultimately be able to meet your goals.

As with everything in life, meeting your goals takes time. Stray away from programs that promise quick results – you have to put in the work and the time to meet your performance goals.

You can make an appointment to get your resting energy expenditure tested or to speak with the sports nutritionist at the Sanford Sports Science Institute by calling (605) 312-7870.

Related links:

Today’s Dietitian || Athletes and Protein Intake

MyFitnessPal || Nutrition 101 – Protein

Science Daily || Protein-packed breakfast prevents body fat gain in overweight teens

Eat Right || Protein and the Athlete: How Much Do You Need?

Greatist || 31 Healthy and Portable High-Protein Snacks

Stack || The High Protein Food You’re Not Eating Enough Of

Profile by Sanford || Grocery Store Picks