Protein is one of the important staples of a female athlete's diet and nutrition plan. Eating a balanced diet including foods like eggs, whey protein, cottage cheese, lean red meats, poultry and fish will ensure that you get the needed amino acids that your body requires for many functions including:
- Building and repairing muscle
- Hair, skin and nails
- Used in repair and growth of bones
- Used in vital body fluids
- and many other systems of your body. Our body cannot synthesize, or create, these amino acids so we have to get them by consuming protein sources.
How much should I eat?
It is recommended that you consume about 10-30% of your total daily calories every day and if you eat a small amount 2-3 times per day in your meals, you will get enough.
How do I measure how much I am eating?
A good (And easy!) rule of thumb that I use is to use the palm of your hand to measure the portion of chicken or eggs or meat to eat with your meal. A shake made out of whey powder will also be enough.
You can also:
- Use a food scale to measure your portions in weight
- Use a portion point of reference like the palm of your hand to approximate the amount
- Use a food nutrition database either electronically as in an app or online or in a book form. These types of databases will give you all the nutritional value of a specific food and in a specific amount.
Needs of Athletes
If you are following a fitness training plan, whatever your fitness and health goals are, you are putting new stresses on your body and its systems and this creates new needs for higher amounts of foods with high nutritional value, including good sources of amino acids.
It is estimated that an athlete needs about 50% more chicken, eggs or whey powder than a sedentary person. If you are bodybuilding, you probably need about twice as much as a couch potato.
You might say, hey! I'm not quite an athlete! But if you are actively training and exercising heavier than you normally do, then your needs will increase as well. Just because you aren't Venus Williams or Gabriella Reese does not mean that you aren't an athlete!
Most sports involve physically breaking down the muscle during the activity. Then it needs to be repaired afterwards.