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Coach's Column with Namrita O'Dea

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |February 2, 2011 7:25 AM

This week our question goes to Namrita O'Dea. A licensed dietician and member of the Topeak/Ergon racing team, O'Dea helps riders fine tune their bodies for maximum performance through her business 55 Nine Performance Nutrition.

Question: I feel like I have a hard time getting enough protein in my diet. Do you have any recommendations to help me increase my protein intake?

Answer: As an endurance athlete you want to take in approximately 1.2 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight (1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds) per day but this recommendation is somewhat variable with your training load.  Increasing protein intake beyond 1.8 grams/kg-day may help your body to better handle the stress of an unusually hard training block. 

Almost all food has some amount of protein in it, but meat, fish, dairy, eggs, legumes, nuts, and whole grains are some of the choices that are higher in protein. If you eat a balanced diet with plenty of natural, whole foods you may not need a protein supplement.  If you find that you need additional protein, for example during a particularly hard block of training, you can always quickly mix protein powder into a breakfast or recovery smoothie or a grab a protein bar as a snack.       

Here is a list of some protein-packed foods you can include as part of your regular diet:

2 eggs: 12.5 g

1 oz almonds: 6 g

1 cup soy milk: 7 g

2 tbs almond butter: 5 g

1/2 cup black beans: 8 g

4 oz fish, meat, or poultry: 28 g

1/2 cup quinoa (raw): 10g

1/2 cup oats (raw): 5 g

1/2 cup wild rice (raw): 12 g

Scoop of PowerBar Protein Plus powder: 20 g

Honey Stinger Protein Bar: 10 g or 20 g sizes available

PowerBar ProteinPlus Bar: 23 g or 30 g sizes available

Including some amount of protein with every meal and snack, including your recovery drink, will make it easier to meet your daily needs.

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