ThinkstockPhotos-503489252 (1)Do you keep track of your protein intake? Endurance athletes require more protein than the average person to sustain their  strength and endurance. Triathletes are usually aware of their carbohydrate intake, but protein sometimes goes forgotten. Protein deficiency is common in athletes and can lead to an overall weaker performance. Here are coach Paul Duncan Jr.’s tips to including protein in your diet.

How does protein help triathletes?

Getting in the right amount of protein reduces recovery time, prevents muscle weakness and increases immune system functionality. Those not getting enough protein are at risk of reaching chronic fatigue, anemia and lethargy and breaking down more easily.
Not all protein sources are created equal. In terms of supplemental protein, whey protein has the highest biological value to the endurance athlete as it has the highest percentage of amino acids. This means that a greater percentage of the protein is actually usable and absorbed by your body.
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How much protein do I need?

There is no magic sweet spot of the exact amount of protein that you need. Studies show that athletes in heavy training need more protein than recreational athletes. A 165 lb athlete should consume 128 grams or more of protein daily. During heavy training loads, that value should be higher — the more muscle damage, the more protein required. You can consume substantially more protein without causing the body any harm.

What’s are the best times to consume protein?

Post-workout. Triathletes should consume protein within 30 minutes of any intense training. An easy way to take in this protein is with a drink that helps replace glycogen and protein. The rule of thumb is three or four parts carbohydrate and one part protein. If a recovery drink is not available, getting something in bar form is also beneficial.

The rest of your recommended protein intake can be balanced throughout the day. Consuming approximately 25 grams at breakfast, lunch and dinner and 15 – 20 at snacks between meals will roughly add up to your daily intake.

How should I include protein in my diet?ThinkstockPhotos-478549032

Here are some of the healthiest, protein-packed foods for triathletes.
Eggs are a great source of protein. One egg will contain about 6 grams of high quality protein.
Greek Yogurt Opt for the plain, unsweetened variety. If you need a little added flavor, try adding some berries, stevia, or honey.
Whey Protein If you are hungry at night, consider taking a scoop of protein right before going to bed instead of your normal late night snack. It will help repair damaged muscles as you sleep and help keep you full through the night.
Are you getting enough protein in your diet? Use a calorie tracking app and log your food for a day. You may be surprised at how little protein you’re consuming. Some easy fixes for getting more include swapping that high-calorie bread, pasta, and rice with some extra veggies and lean protein sources.

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