Proteins are part of every cell and tissue in the body. Proteins that we consume through our diet is essential for normal body function, growth and development, and building and repairing tissue. We need to consume protein-rich foods, like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy because our bodies cannot make it on its own. The body requires more protein with exercise, therefore, athlete’s and highly active individuals require more protein than sedentary individuals. Often youth athletes do not consume an adequate amount of protein on a daily basis. It is important to consider optimal intake to optimize growth during developmental stages, and build and recover muscle tissue.
During childhood and adolescence, adequate protein intake is essential for maintaining normal body function due to the high demand of growth and development. Protein is not only essential for the growth of the body’s supporting structures, like muscle, skin, and hair, but it is also necessary for the brain and immune system. As growth slows, protein needs decrease, therefore, adults require less protein than children and adolescence. Highly active, youth athletes, need even more protein than sedentary individuals.
Consuming protein pre-exercise and post exercise has its benefits. It may improve recovery and hypertrophy. Studies has shown that consuming protein within three hours’ post-exercise will help stimulate protein synthesis, improve muscle development and adaptations to resistance training. In this case, protein supplementation may be beneficial to jump-start muscle recovery.
Whey protein is one of the most popular forms of protein supplementation. Whey is a protein found in milk, but can be isolated for those who are lactose intolerant. It aids in recovery from exercise and provides optimal support of muscle adaptions. It can be easily available, when whole protein-rich foods are not. For example, at away tournaments it is hard to find quality sources of protein. Protein powder and certain bars are easy to pack in your bag and have in between meals or for post game. It is not recommended that protein supplementation is used as meal replacements, and is best consumed before or after exercise and in between meals. Protein supplementation is also useful if you are not consuming adequate amount of protein-rich foods with every meal. Do you have questions on which protein supplement is best for you? Provide a question in our comments section.