In addition to carbohydrates, proteins are also an important nutrient for endurance athletes. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Proteins supply energy but, above all, they are the building blocks of our muscles. Protein protects, maintains and strengthens muscles, helping muscle tissue to recover.
A muscle is built up of thousands of cells that are damaged after an effort. This damage must be repaired to avoid muscle wasting and promote muscle building. Do you often experience an ammonia odour while exercising? This may mean your body is breaking down muscle mass.
Generally speaking the food we eat on a daily basis contains a sufficient amount of protein. As a result, athletes don’t need to eat more protein-rich foods on top of a normal, balanced and healthy sports diet. Moreover, this additional protein would take the place of other valuable foods (fruit and vegetables) and be at the expense of other useful nutrients such as carbohydrates and dietary fibre.
Good sources of protein include dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, cheese, pulses and meat substitutes.