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In one of the runner's magazines I get, an article was published (a few?) months ago about how athletes need to be careful to get enough protein. The article featured how a vegetarian runner began to have dropping times due to not getting adequate amounts of protein.<br><br><br><br>
At first, I was angry that they should choose to publish an article that shows vegetarians in a bad lights and re-inforces the misconceptions and omit mentioning runners (I think that I read about some ultramarathoners who were successful vegetarians when I was first researching and considering becoming vegetarian) who are able to succesfully be vegetarian athletes/runners....<br><br><br><br>
Anyways.... I think that most people, and athletes in particular, are terrified about not getting enough protein--most of us know what can happen if you don't get enough... AND most people seem to think that being a vegetarian means you won't be able to get enough protein (a misconception.) So, you add these two fears together, and you get a rather paranoid person.<br><br><br><br>
Different sources recommend different amounts of protein. Additionally, these different sources that I've found either give a range /lb, or vaguely say that athletes should have more protein.<br><br><br><br>
Add the two fears and the lack of knowledge/agreement..... let's just say I'd like to know once and for all what is a good amount of protein is...I was wondering if anyone could give me a solid number?!? Or at least a range... I know that athletes are supposed to have 'more', but that's up for interpretation........<br><br><br><br>
Background on me: I've been a vegetarian for about 3 months and I'm also a (competitive) runner... I do XC in the fall, long runs ... in the winter (around 12 miles), triathlons in the summer, and I'm doing track for the first time this spring (probably pole vaulting and some sort of long-distance even--800, mile, 2 mile).....<br><br><br><br>
I know that this topic has probably been discussed many times and there's lots of information out there, but I haven't been able to find any solid amount...and the sites all seem to be in disagreement! Any suggestions welcome!!! Thank you....<br><br><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> E
 

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Hi Runnergal,<br><br><br><br>
I do not think that there is some magical optimal percentage of the calories in the diet that should come from protein. I think that the percentage of total calories that a person gets from protein can vary quite a bit in healthy vegetarians, whether athletic or not. What sets serious athletes apart from the rest of us is that they have greater caloric needs, not only for protein calories, but for fats and carbs as well. According to Dr. Fuhrman, the increased need for protein is proportional to the increased need for calories burned with the exercise. He says that if you meet the increased caloric demands from heavy exercise with an ordinary assortment of natural plant foods (vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts) which contain more than 50 grams of protein per 1000 calories, you will get the precise amount of extra protein that you need.<br><br><br><br>
Bear in mind that the advice given above comes from a former world class athlete (in pairs ice skating), who advises top athletes on using nutritional excellence to optimize their athletic performance. He is a family practice doctor who specializes in using nutrition to reverse and prevent chronic disease.<br><br><br><br>
Claudia
 

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As a marathon runner I was also concerned about protein requirements. I read an article that featured Scott Jurek (<a href="http://scottjurek.com/bio.php)" target="_blank">http://scottjurek.com/bio.php)</a>. Scott has won several ultramarathons while following a vegan diet.<br><br><br><br>
Athletes in general require more protein to help rebuild muscles damaged during exercise.
 

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There's also Brendan Brazier (<a href="http:" target="_blank">www.brendanbrazier.com)</a>, a vegan of many years and the winner of the 2006 Canadian 50km Ultramarathon Championship. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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I agree with Claudia - put the stress on meeting caloric demands with a varied diet and you automatically meet your protein demand.<br><br><br><br><i>The article featured how a vegetarian runner began to have dropping times due to not getting adequate amounts of protein.</i><br><br><br><br>
Maybe the dropping of times is due to not meeting caloric demands rather than protien demands, which aren't so high if you compare a runner to a couch potato and not a weight lifter to couch potato.
 

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but I belong to the camp that says that there is no exact number...the right amount for you is the amount that keeps you feeling and performing at your best.<br><br><br><br>
My husband loves to run and wants to get this fancy watch the has GPS and tracks your distance, heart rate etc...I am sure you have heard of it (starts with a G and I just can't recall) anyway, you can upload all the data from each run onto your computer and track the progress of your runs...not just speed and distance but your heart rate as well. That my be I good way to keep tabs on your performance. As you play with your protein intake you will be able to see very clearly how it it affecting your performance.
 

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I'm no expert, but I'm a new vegetarian trying to be healthy about it, so I'm currently reading "The New Becoming Vegetarian" by Melina and Davis. I'll just repeat what that says, and you can decide for yourself what to think of it.<br><br><br><br>
The official Recommended Dietary Allowance is .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms. Multiply that by .8 to get the number of grams of protein you should be eating per day. For instance, I weigh 155 lbs, so 155 / 2.2 * .8 = 56.36. So my RDA would be around 56 grams of protein per day. (pages 52-53)<br><br><br><br>
It goes on to say that some nutritionists think that vegetarians actually need more protein than that to compensate for the lower digestibility of some plant proteins. Add 15-20% for that, usually by just removing the .8 multiplication from the formula above. So by that method, I would need 155 / 2.2 = 70.45 grams of protein per day. (page 53)<br><br><br><br>
On the subject of athletics, they say (page 55):<br><br><br><br>
"There is no separate protein RDA for athletes, as the scientific review committee that established the RDA's found 'a lack of compelling evidence' that those doing resistance or endurance exercise have higher protein needs."<br><br><br><br>
But the next paragraph (page 55) states that for those who are building muscle, extra protein may be appropriate. The professional recommendation on that, "advises endurance athletes to get about 1.2 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a brief period of time during the early stages of training, when muscle mass is increasing and protein needs are highest, athletes may aim for as much as 2 to 2.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight".<br><br><br><br>
I've been tracking what I eat the last few days to make sure I'm eating healthy as I transition to vegetarian. I'm finding that the 56 RDA is a joke, and I'm meeting the 70 RDA almost every day without even trying. I know that I'm always hungrier on days after I've exercised, so that 1.2-1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight is probably a reasonable goal for athletes who practice daily. My body tells me when I need more, and yours probably will, too.<br><br><br><br>
--Fromper<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/juggle.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":juggle:">
 
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