Ask Dr. Burke: Supplement your training table

Dear Dr. Burke:
How many grams of protein do the elite pros generally try to get into their systems daily? Also, do guys like Lance Armstrong take supplements like vitamins, creatine or glutamine? I look forward to hearing from you!

Vitamin Boy

Dear Vitamin Boy:

Increased protein intake may be of importance to an athlete. Some researchers have found that additional protein minimizes the anemia that athletes normally develop at the beginning of endurance training and helps maintain muscle mass during hard training.

Secondly, in females there is concern that inadequate protein may contribute to the development of amenorrhea. Women who couple a low protein diet with a heavy training program may be predisposed to the effects of inadequate protein.

With this information in mind, several groups have stepped forward and begun to make new recommendations. The American Dietetic Association in 1987 published a position statement that revised the RDA upwards for athletes, from 0.8 gram to 1.0 gram per kilogram of body weight per day.

A kilogram is 2.2 pounds. A recommendation of the International Center for Sports Nutrition, states that based on recent research, it appears the protein requirements for athletes are between 1.0 and 1.5 gram/kilogram/day, assuming that the caloric intake is adequate.

Assuming that you are eating a diet with sufficient total calorie intake, this quantity of protein will be present in any diet that contains 12 to 15 percent of its calories in protein. This is also consistent with the most popular recommendation for athletes, that their diet be composed of 60 to 70 percent carbohydrate, 12 to 15 percent protein, and less than 30 percent fat.

Remember that carbohydrates are the key to supplying energy to the working muscles and maintaining muscle and liver glycogen stores and also provides a protein sparing effect.

Lastly, most top cyclists take a variety of supplements to insure adequate intake of vitamins and minerals.

When training hard, it would be advisable for you to take a good multiple vitamin and mineral supplement along with the recommended diet above for adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat intake.

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