Everyone needs protein but in different amounts. At some point, athletes will need more since they have an active lifestyle. Protein also helps them build muscles necessary for a better range of motion and strength. The best protein sources for athletes can help achieve all of these.
|WHEY ISOLATE||WHEY ISOLATE BRAND||EXPERT RATING||CHECK PRICE|
|Ascent Native Fuel |
Whey Protein Powder
|MuscleTech Nitro Tech Ultra Clean|
Whey Isolate Powder
|Sascha Fitness Hydrolyzed |
Whey Protein Isolate
Before protein powders became highly commercialized, it’s commonly taken by athletes who need to build more muscles. Protein also helps athletes recover from physical injuries.
Here, we’ll take a look at the protein needs of athletes together with three of the best whey protein powders that they can incorporate in their regimen.
The protein needs of athletes
Unlike typical people, athletes need more protein. The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams for every kilogram of our body weight. But for athletes, they will likely need more.
Most athletes will take as much as 1.2 grams of protein for every kilogram of their body weight every day. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all dosage to protein. We need to factor in age, health condition, and level of physical activity that in the case of athletes is relatively high.
According to Dr. Christopher Mohr, a nutrition consultant, endurance athletes or those who are into swimming, cycling, skiing, and the likes, need to consume around 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight.
Meanwhile, power and strength athletes like those into weightlifting, gymnastics, rugby, and wrestling need to consume a higher dose of 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of their body weight.
Again, this is just a general dosage. It’s also important that athletes consult a sports nutritionist to identify the exact protein levels they need to take. They should stick to the best athlete diet plan.
The rule of thumb is to increase protein intake for every additional hour of training. The amount will depend on the intensity of training. For the most intense training, sports nutritionist may recommend as much as 2 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. This is especially true for athletes who reduced their energy intake and is prone to muscle loss.
NOTE: According to Sports Nutritionist Dr. Nancy Clark, there’s no need for different recommendations for men and women. Protein intake should be based on their per kilogram weight.
Here’s a short video about calculating your protein needs:
Role of protein on an athlete’s health
All of us need protein regardless if we can lift that barbell at the gym. But when it comes to athletes, their protein uptake is a crucial part of their diet.
The common problem among endurance athletes is they tend to focus more on packing up with carbs to the point that they neglect protein. Fair enough, most athletes can survive with the bare minimum as indicated in the DRI or Dietary Reference Intake.
However, the repercussions are undeniable. Endurance athletes with protein deficiency will experience longer recovery time, crumbling immune system, and muscle weakness.
If these athletes won’t compensate with their protein deficiency, their intense physical activity may lead to anemia, severe and premature fatigue, lethargy, and other serious disorders. In fact, athletes diagnosed with over-training syndrome are typically plagued with protein deficiency.
Some of these problems are connected to the stereotypes about protein intake. First of all, bodybuilders aren’t the only people who need a higher protein intake. The very fact that athletes, regardless of sports, tax their muscles too much, calls for added protein uptake.
An increase in protein intake is very important for athletes who are starting a new training drill or stepping up with their training.
Best protein sources for athletes
When it comes to the protein source, the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that athletes take high-quality protein. One of which is whey protein isolates.
Whey isolates contain pure protein with a complete amino acid profile. Unlike concentrates, isolates have a higher protein level and fewer non-protein substances. That means whey isolates have very low carb, fat, lactose, and sugar content. This makes it a very flexible choice for a protein source.
Athletes can also consume a portion of their protein needs from their meals. The likes of chicken breast, milk, nuts, egg white, tuna, and other whole foods are healthy sources of protein.
Sports nutritionist emphasized that the amino acid content is the make-or-break part. For one, Leucine is the key player in initiating muscle protein synthesis that will lead to muscle growth and recovery.
Leucine-rich protein source like whey isolates is a good way to promote muscle recovery after intense training or a sports event.
Another thing that athletes should look for if they’re taking isolates is BCAAs or Branched-Chain Amino Acids. Basically, there are three BCAAs: Leucine (which we mentioned earlier), Isoleucine, and Valine. All of these enhance muscle strength and supports muscle growth.
Is there any harm to protein intake among athletes?
There’s a solid reason why sports nutritionists recommend that athletes measure their protein intake by body weight, the intensity of activity, and other factors. Too much of anything can be bad for their health too.
At some point, the definition of a ‘high-protein diet’ becomes vague. Some newbie athletes think that as long as they train while chugging protein shakes, they’re all good.
This is exactly what a 2011 study from the University of Stirling has delved into. They found out that some athletes consume a lot of protein that’s more than what their bodies actually use.
The researchers are concerned about the possible effects of excessive protein intake among athletes including hypertrophy, bone mineral loss, and kidney damage.
For healthy individuals, they found out that a controlled high-protein diet doesn’t pose any serious risks. But for those who have underlying kidney conditions or a family history of kidney problems, the high protein intake could be an issue.
It’s important that athletes consult a dietitian or a sports nutritionist before increasing their protein intake. The best protein sources for athletes should be chosen properly.
Putting their diet in the picture
Athletes usually consume more carbs to sustain the energy needs of their bodies. But for some, they would prefer to cut back on carbs to consume more protein. With this, their bodies will use protein for energy while reducing their body fat composition.
Calorie-wise, athletes will usually consume the same amount of carbohydrates with that of a typical person. However, they strictly observe carbohydrate timing including the pre-event and post-event timing. This is imperative for athletes under strenuous activities.
When it comes to fat, athletes have to tread lightly. As much as possible, professional athletes will reduce their intake of saturated fats which can block arteries and cause weight gain.
How about a vegan diet? Yes, even celebrity athletes like Venus Williams, Jermain Defoe, and Barny du Plessis have switched to a vegan diet. The only challenge, though, is to keep up with their protein needs. For less restrictive vegans, whey isolates are the answer for their best athlete diet plan.
Exercise and protein
Protein is crucial for exercise, much so for athletes that undergo extensive training. However, it’s not just about taking protein per se. Here, timing is everything.
When it comes to whey isolates, athletes prefer to take it after their workout session. This isn’t surprising since whey isolates are fast-digesting which will help in muscle recovery after an exhausting exercise session.
Again, an athlete’s protein intake will depend on the intensity of their training. So even if we suggest a general protein dose, it’s still an individualized matter.
Top 3 Whey Powders for Athletes
Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder
For athletes who want to be on top of their game, the Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder is a good choice. It’s also one of the least-processed whey isolate made from native whey with zero artificial ingredients.
Every serving of the Ascent Native Fuel contains 25 grams of clean protein and 5.7 grams of naturally occurring BCAAs. Also, this combo makes a powerful muscle recovery regimen for athletes and active individuals.
Also, this whey isolate has zero trans fats and contains only 120 calories per serving. What we love the most about the Ascent Native Fuel is that it’s not amino-spiked plus it’s formulated to improve athletic performance.
This whey isolate comes in five different sweet flavors as well as an unflavored version. The chocolate flavor tastes like the typical chocolate drink which is good if you’re a reluctant protein taker.
The only gripe we have is the packaging. It’s a pain to keep tight so it’s better to transfer the content into a sealed canister instead. Even the 4-pounder version is packed in a large resealable pouch that can be a hassle for storage.
If you have the time, you can even bake or cook with this best protein sources for athletes.
MuscleTech Nitro Tech Ultra Clean Whey Isolate Powder
For athletes who want to get ripped, the MuscleTech Nitro Tech Whey Isolate is a powerful protein powder. It also has a weight loss formula and a superior protein profile.
In every scoop, you’ll get 30 grams of pure protein packed with L-carnitine, CLA, green tea, and rose hip extract. This contains a little more calories per serving at around 170 but still manageable even for those who are trying to lose weight.
For athletes, the MuscleTech whey isolate is a flexible choice as it contains very little fat, 3 grams of carbs, and 445 mg of calcium. It’s the right blend of muscle building formula and support for overall wellness.
Take note that this isn’t suitable for athletes under 18. Also, settling is normal for the product after filling.
Currently, MuscleTech is available in two flavors: Chocolate Brownie and French Vanilla Swirl. You can also choose between a 2-pound or 4-pound tub.
Overall, this is a great protein with an added boost. However, you may need a blender or a shaker bottle to avoid clumps if you’re making a shake with water or milk.
This best protein sources for athletes can be taken as a post-workout regimen or in small dosages all throughout the day.
OUR TOP PICK
Product Name: Sascha Fitness Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate
Product Description: Our ultimate choice for this roundup is the Sascha Fitness Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate. This powder is hydrolyzed for faster absorption and it’s harvested from grass-fed whey. Each serving of the Sascha whey isolate contains 25 grams of protein, EAAs, and BCAAs that support muscle growth and recovery. Aside from that, this isolate contains digestive enzymes that will prevent bloating and gas that are commonly observed on other whey powders. Moreover, this isolate has no sugar, carbs, and fat. This is also low in sodium which makes it very versatile as a protein source. It’s sweetened with natural stevia without any hidden frills.
This product is one of the offers of Sascha Fitness, an authority and best-selling author for health and fitness. It’s guaranteed to boost your athletic performance regardless if you’re into endurance or power sports.
For those who have sensitive stomachs, the Sascha whey isolate is made to be lactose and gluten-free. Also, Sascha uses non-GMO sunflower lecithin which saves its users from possible allergies.
This protein is currently available in chocolate flavor that’s very decadent even for the finicky eaters and reluctant protein takers.
-Free of soy, gluten, and lactose
-Loaded with EAAs and BCAAs
-Naturally sweetened with stevia
-There’s a mild aftertaste
The best protein sources for athletes will depend on their needs. What’s important is they choose a clean and complete protein source. Above all, the advice of a dietician or a sports nutritionist will be unbeatable.
Unlike typical individuals, athletes have more intensive physical activity. Their muscles are placed under a higher level of stress. This is the reason why they need more protein than ever to support faster recovery.
The whey powder isolates we recommend above have excellent protein quality and nutrient boost. Still, it pays to match everything to their diet and routines.