Protein is a macronutrient and plays an essential role in the build and repair of muscle, hair, nails, and skin. While protein does not necessarily act as the primary source of nutrients, during exercise, protein helps maintain blood glucose through liver gluconeogenesis.
When it comes to an individual’s overall growth and development, maintaining basic nutrition and having a well-balanced diet is imperative in achieving optimal health. With respect to athlete performance, receiving adequate amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients enables athletes to elevate their training and recovery.
In general, the recommended protein intake is measured based on the “recommended dietary allowance” (RDA). The RDA establishes the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy people. It is recommended that adults should consume about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight.
When it comes to children, it is no surprise that protein intake is especially important, as it allows for proper wound healing as well as helps the body maintain fluid and acid-base balance. The recommended protein consumption in children differs based on a child’s age, whereby the protein needs decrease as age increases.
It is recommended that children between ages 7-14 require 0.45 grams of protein per body weight
For example, a child weighing 90 lbs translates into 40.5 grams of protein daily
Young Athletes & Sport Nutrition
With that being said, children and adolescents with sedentary to moderate activity levels can receive their recommended intake of protein by simply maintaining a well-balanced whole foods diet. When it comes to young individuals who are highly active, the recommended dietary changes. A young athlete can be defined as a competitive person, 18 years of age or younger, who trains or competes at least 3 times a week. As expected, a young individual who engages in more physical activity would need to consume more protein than those who are not active.
- Intensity of exercise : the greater the exertion, the higher the protein requirement.
- The duration of exercise for both training & games: the longer the duration, the higher protein requirement
- The type of exercise the athlete is participating in: endurance training regulates higher protein requirement.
- Energy content of the diet: Athletes who must maintain a lower body weight by restricting their energy intake (ex dancers, gymnasts etc) may have a higher protein requirement
- When a young athlete struggles to eat the proper quantity of food during the day
- When a young athlete struggles to eat a high quality diet
- If the young athlete’s goal is to gain strength through intensive training (more protein is required)
- If a young athlete struggles to stay healthy