Age is just a number, but it does play a crucial role in your nutritional needs as an athlete. With every passing year, your body undergoes certain changes, and these changes demand a revised approach to your dietary habits. If you're a male athlete over 40, you need to pay extra attention to your diet to ensure that it supports your athletic performance. To help you create a nutrition plan that caters to your specific needs, we've put together this 5 part guide.
In part 1 of our 5 part series we explore the importance of protein in our diet, the consequences of not consuming enough protein, and the benefits of consuming enough protein when exercising.
The Importance of Protein in Our Diet
Protein is one of the three macronutrients that our bodies require to function properly, along with carbohydrates and fats. It is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Our bodies use protein to build and repair muscle tissue, as well as to produce enzymes, hormones, and other important molecules.
For older male athletes, protein is especially important. As we age, our bodies naturally lose muscle mass, which can lead to a decrease in strength and mobility. Consuming enough protein can help to slow down this muscle loss and maintain muscle mass, which can help to maintain overall health and wellbeing.
Consequences of Not Consuming Enough Protein
If you do not consume enough protein in your diet, your body may begin to break down muscle tissue to use as a source of energy. This can lead to a decrease in muscle mass, strength, and overall health. Additionally, not consuming enough protein can lead to a weakened immune system, poor wound healing, and an increased risk of falls and fractures.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1 in 3 adults over the age of 50 experience falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of hospitalisation for this age group. Consuming enough protein can help to maintain muscle strength and balance, which can help to reduce the risk of falls and fractures.
Benefits of Consuming Enough Protein When Exercising
When you exercise, your muscles are put under stress, and small tears occur in the muscle tissue. Consuming enough protein after exercising can help to repair this muscle tissue and promote muscle growth.
Research has shown that consuming protein after exercise can help to improve muscle protein synthesis, which is the process of building new muscle tissue. In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers found that consuming protein after exercise can help to increase muscle protein synthesis by up to 50%.
Additionally, consuming enough protein can help to improve exercise performance. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that consuming protein before and after exercise can help to improve endurance performance and reduce muscle damage.
5 Interesting Facts About Protein
The recommended daily intake of protein for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, athletes and older adults may require more protein to maintain muscle mass and overall health.
Protein can be found in a variety of foods, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, and nuts.
Whey protein, which is a byproduct of cheese production, is a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders due to its high protein content and fast absorption rate.
Consuming too much protein can lead to dehydration, kidney damage, and other health issues. It is important to consume protein in moderation and to consult a healthcare professional before beginning any new diet or supplement regimen.
Vegan and vegetarian athletes can still consume enough protein by incorporating plant-based protein sources such as beans, lentils, tofu, and quinoa into their diets.
So grab that extra steak, protein shake, or half dozen eggs and provide your body with the protein requirements it needs.
Check out Part 2 of our 5 part series - Hydration.