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  • emma@idealeatsdietetics

Importance of Protein for the Young Athlete

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

Protein is a very important nutrient for the growing athlete, it supplies the building blocks for overall growth (including muscle development), aids in muscle repair after intense exercise including regular weekly training, and also has a role in appetite regulation.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend approximately 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training. Remember protein should be spaced throughout the day and occur post training/workouts. Notably individual protein needs vary according to age, sex, weight, amount and type of training and more, contact Ideal Eats Dietetics today for an appointment to help you learn about your protein needs and how to best manage your overall nutrient intake.

Are Powders and Supplements Needed?

It is always best to attempt to get all your macro and micronutrient needs through dietary intake. Powders and supplements are sometimes convenient however not necessary even for an elite athlete. In some instances protein powders or supplements may be helpful to ensure recommended requirements are met however advice from an accredited practising dietitian should be sort prior to adding supplements into your regular diet.

Foods High in Protein

Proteins are found in both animal and plant foods. The amino acid profile of animal proteins is closer to that of humans. The major sources in the Australian and New Zealand diet are-meat, poultry and fish (about 33%), cereals and cereal-based foods (about 25%) and dairy foods (about 16%), vegetables also provide about 8%.

Foods high in protein include; all meats, eggs, nuts and seeds, and dairy products.

Ideal Eats Suggestions

Slow Cooker Braised Beef with Carrots and Turnips: Healthy slow cooker beef stew infuses flavor into the chuck steak as it cooks in the slow cooker to create a mouthwateringly tender dinner main. High in protein and low in fat, the chuck steak delivers a hefty amount of protein in this filling dinner without delivering as much saturated fat as you'd get from other cuts of meat. Serve the steak and vegetables over creamy polenta or buttered whole-wheat egg noodles to round out the meal.

Sheet-Pan Chicken and Vegetables with Romesco Sauce: Made with roasted peppers, nuts, garlic and olive oil, the Mediterranean romesco sauce is a delicious accompaniment to just about everything. Use this creamy sauce to add flavor to easy sheet-pan roasted chicken and vegetables of your choice. Delivering approx. 33 grams of protein per serving, this healthy dinner will keep you feeling satisfied all evening long.

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