Masters athletes protein intake improves recovery. Virgin initiation ceremony for the Hash House Harriers, Grenada West Indies

Masters Athletes protein needs are higher than younger athletes

Masters athletes protein intake may need to be higher.  Masters athletes are slower to recover than similarly trained young athletes.  These differences are especially strong when there has been muscle damage. Sadly, a number of studies have shown that older people, and probably masters athletes, don’t remodel skeletal muscle as well. A recently published review article on the importance of masters athletes protein intake discusses this topic.

Masters athletes protein is important for adaptation to exercise

Increase masters athlete protein intake. WODMasters Experienced as Hell Shirt

WODMasters Experienced as Hell Shirt. Designed for the Masters Athlete. We may not be fast as Hell, but sometimes that doesn’t matter.

Protein intake after exercise is important for adaptation as well as repair.   Protein can help muscles restock their glycogen supplies.  This is important because of evidence that glycogen is needed to make more mitochondria.  Making more mitochondria is one of the ways your body adapts to exercise.  It is also one of the ways that training leads to better performance.  Glycogen has traditionally been thought of as an endurance athlete’s problem.  Think marathon runners hitting “the wall.”  However glycogen is also important for resistance training and performance.  Resistance sessions can have a powerful impact on glycogen.  Drops of ~25-40% have been reported.  Of course, the drop will depend on intensity and volume.  Performance in activities like Crossfit might be significantly affected. Especially in situations where multiple events occur on the same day.  It would be nice to know more.  Until we do, pre-wod carbohydrate ingestion might be a strategy to follow.    But, back to masters athletes protein needs.

What are masters athletes protein needs exactly?

What exactly are recommended masters athletes protein intake?  Current recommendations for sedentary adults are .8 g/kg/body weight.  That comes to about 46 grams daily sedentary women.  56 grams daily for sedentary men.  Recommendations for athletes in training are 1.3-1.8 g/kg/body weight.  Some researchers have proposed that the protein needs of sedentary older adults are closer to that of athletes: up to 1.3 g/kg/body weight.  So, what about masters athletes?  Perhaps the upper range of 1.8 g/kg/body weight?  It probably depends on who you are, and what you are doing.  For now, try a high protein snack after your workouts.  And maybe up your protein intake in general.  Getting some protein after exercise can help speed muscle protein synthesis and repair.  Current recommendations hold that athletes in general should grab a snack with ~20 g of protein or 0.25 g/kg/body weight after a workout.  Masters athletes may need more protein to get the same benefit. Researchers further suggest that Masters athletes direct “particular attention” to leucine content of their post-exercise snack.  (Let’s guess that means “get some leucine.”) Give more leucine a try too.

Sources of Leucine.

masters athletes protein intake improves performance

Increased masters athletes protein intake gives masters the strength they need to beat up young people.

Good sources of leucine are eggs, soy (scary, I know a lot of people will reject this one right off), and seaweed followed by roasted moose meat.  For some reason roasted moose meat is better than raw.  This information comes from a random website that doesn’t say where they got their information.


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References for more reading on masters athletes protein and such

Doering TM, Reaburn PR, Phillips SM, Jenkins DG.  2015.  Post-exercise dietary protein strategies to maximize skeletal muscle repair and remodeling in Masters Endurance Athletes: A review.

Nowson C, O’Connell S.  2015.  Protein requirements and recommendatons for older people: a review.  Nutrients. 7(8):6874-99. doi: 10.3390/nu7085311

Phillips SM, Van Loon LJ.  2011.  Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation.  29:S29-38.  J Sports Sci.  doi: 10.1080/02640414.2011.619204. 

Pim K, Hopman MTE, Mensink M.  2015.  Glycogen availability and skeletal muscle adaptations with endurance and resistance exercise.  Nutr Metabl.  doi:  10.1186/s12986-015-0055-9




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