Proteins are essential for our bodies to function. They are the essential nutrient for muscle-building which is the central element of all physical activity. 

They also have other functions such as cell synthesis, antibody manufacture, hormone production and oxygen transport.

Proteins in the athlete’s body

The body of a medium-sized adult contains between 10 and 12kg of protein, located mainly in the muscles.

Protein molecules are made up of an assembly of amino acids. An analogy can be established between amino acids and the alphabet, comparing the proteins to words with hundreds of letters and therefore amino acids. A protein will be made up of at least 100 amino acids.

Nine of these amino acids must be included in our diet because the body does not know how to manufacture them. These nine amino acids are called "essential amino acids".

The biological property of a protein therefore depends on the amino acid sequence that makes it up.

Different protein qualities

Proteins with a high biological value (or complete proteins) are provided by foods containing all the essential amino acids in a quantity and proportion sufficient to allow the growth and repair of tissues. If one or more essential amino acids are missing, the synthesised proteins will be incomplete or of low biological value.

Are proteins natural?

Yes, because the sources of protein are eggs, milk, meat, fish and poultry.

Of all these foods, eggs provide an optimal blend of essential amino acids. They represent the highest biological value equal to 100.

Roles of proteins in the athlete's body

The major role of proteins provided through diet is to provide amino acids to different anabolic reactions in the body.

The three main sources of protein in the body are muscles, visceral tissues and blood plasma. Proteins contribute to tissue structure and are used as part of the metabolism or hormonal system.

How to consume proteins?

RNIs (recommended nutritional intakes) of proteins are:

• For recreational athletes, the recommended protein intake is 0.8 to 1.1g/kg/day.

• For endurance athletes, protein requirements increase slightly and are from 1 to 1.2g/kg/day.

• For strength athletes, protein needs are 1.3 to 1.5g/kg/day for a muscle maintenance goal, which will rise as part of an increase in mass (2g/kg/day). For this purpose, the current diet will be increased with protein supplements such as casein-based protein powders or whey.

Is protein dangerous?

Protein RNIs indicate intake to cover the needs of different populations. By adhering to these intake levels, protein is safe for the body.

However, an excess of protein is not without consequence, and must be accompanied by health checks. In truth, excessive intake is not justified in terms of efficiency and poses health risks by increasing the urinary elimination of nitrogen and calcium.

Aptonia produces essential care and nutrition products to achieve your sporting challenge! Check out all the sports nutrition, exercise preparation, performance assistance and sports recovery products. Check out all the tips from Marie, Aptonia’s sports nutritionist.


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