Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Protein and the Youth Athlete

Many young athletes believe that protein is the most important nutrient in their diets. While protein is not the sole focus, it does play a crucial role in an athlete’s balanced nutrition, serving as a building block for strength and peak performance. In addition to protein, carbohydrates and fats are also essential components of an athlete’s diet.

Good Protein Sources for Youth Athletes

Youth athletes should consume a wide variety of high-quality protein foods to support muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. Some examples of good protein sources, along with their recommended serving sizes, are:

  • Chicken Breast (3 oz): 25 g protein
  • Ground Beef (4 oz): 24 g protein
  • Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup): 12 g protein
  • Yogurt (8 oz): 11 g protein
  • Cooked Black Beans (1/2 cup): 8 g protein
  • Peanut Butter (2 tbsp.): 7 g protein
  • Egg (1 large): 7 g protein
  • Mixed Nuts (1/4 cup): 5 g protein

How Much Protein Do Youth Athletes Need?

The amount of protein required by a youth athlete varies depending on their athletic goals. According to the TrueSport Nutrition Guide, the following daily protein intake is recommended for different types of athletes:

  • Endurance: 0.54-0.64 g per pound of body weight
  • Strength (gaining muscle mass): 0.72-0.81 g per pound of body weight
  • Strength (maintaining muscle mass): 0.54-0.64 g per pound of body weight
  • Weight Restricted: 0.63-0.81 g per pound of body weight
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When Should Youth Athletes Consume Protein?

Proper recovery from games, practices, or intense workouts requires both rest and adequate nutrition. The recovery process is enhanced by consuming carbohydrates and protein shortly after exercise to replenish muscle glycogen and stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Consuming protein after resistance training reduces physical breakdown and promotes muscle growth. It is also beneficial to consume several small meals throughout the day, each including approximately 30 grams of protein, to support training and muscle-building.

What Happens if a Youth Athlete Consumes Too Much Protein?

Consuming excess protein may not be dangerous, but it will not necessarily lead to increased muscle size, speed, or jumping ability. The body has a limit to how much protein it can absorb in a day, so consuming excessive amounts will not result in additional benefits.

Should Youth Athletes Take Protein Supplements?

Some athletes may turn to protein supplements, believing they provide an easier way to build muscle mass. However, it is encouraged to consider alternative options and modify diets to include more protein from proven high-quality sources. Food is a superior source of protein as it provides additional nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that the body requires. In contrast, protein supplements may contain unproven ingredients, excessive sugar, and other unhealthy substances, or even pose risks to health.


Q: Where can I find more information about good protein sources for youth athletes, recommended daily values, and why protein supplements are not the best choice?
A: You can find more detailed information in our free TrueSport Nutrition Guide, available on our website Alpinetgheep.

In conclusion, protein is a vital component of a youth athlete’s diet, supporting muscle development and overall performance. However, it is important to maintain a balanced approach and incorporate carbohydrates and fats as well. By choosing high-quality protein sources and avoiding excessive protein intake or reliance on supplements, young athletes can optimize their nutrition and enhance their athletic abilities. For more information, visit Alpinetgheep.

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