Q and A with Dr. Beth Mansfield

Reader Question

“I have been reading about how important protein is to endurance athletes, especially for recovery post workout. But the more I read, the more confused I get! How much, when and what type of protein should I be eating?”

Beth’s Answer

How you “powerfuel” your body post workout is more important than your training for achieving improvements in your athletic performance. Those athletes that fail to focus on post workout nutrition are effectively negating the impact of their prior training session on muscle protein resynthesis – necessary for the body’s ability to recover, repair and regenerate muscle cells to meet a tougher training stimulus for maintenance and improvement of performance.

To help make sure you get the maximum benefit from your workouts, here are the latest recovery tips to help you succeed with your training:

  1. Leucine appears to be a key amino acid for flicking on the switch for muscle protein synthesis to start.
  2. The best sources of leucine come from animal sources, in particular, whey protein, which is found in dairy products such as milk and yogurt.
  3. Muscle protein synthesis is maximized with approximately 20 grams of high quality, leucine rich protein immediately post workout. Aging athletes (60 yrs+) will need slightly more protein post workout.
  4. Leucine-rich choices need to be integrated into snacks and meals repeatedly as part of snacks and meals throughout the next 24-hour period.
  5. Overall, energy intake needs to be sufficient or else muscle mass will be lost despite the higher protein intakes.

PowerFuel™ GOAL: To integrate some leucine-rich food choices into ALL snacks and meals. See the table below to get started.

Cow/goat milk,/yogurt/cheese, and Eggs Protein (g) Leucine (g)
Greek style yogurt, 175 grams 19 2
Regular yogurts, 175 g 8 0.7
Milk, 250 mL 8 0.9
Regular cheeses (e.g. cheddar), 28 grams 7 0.8
Egg, 1 6 0.5
Legumes, Nuts/seeds, Soy products
Soy nuts, 1/3 cup 20 1.6
Tofu, block 100 grams 16 1.2
Edamame, cooked, ½ cup 8 0.6
Nuts, 1/3 cup 9 0.7
Legumes, cooked (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, etc), ½ cup 8 0.6
Peanut butter, 2 Tbsp 8 0.5
Meat & Fish (cooked)
Chicken/turkey breast, 100 grams 31 2.4
Pork, 100 grams 26 2.2
Beef, 100 grams 26 2.0
Fish & Shellfish, 100 grams 22 1.8
Canned tuna, 100 grams 14 1.1
Deli sliced turkey breast, 100 grams 20 1.2
Grains & Cereals
Wheat pasta, cooked, 1½ cups 12 0.9
Oatmeal, cooked, 1 cup 6 0.5
Quinoa, rice, bulgur, cooked, 1 cup 6 0.4
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice, 40 grams 5 0.2
Whey protein isolates, 15 grams 14

About Beth Mansfield and Peak Performance Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Mansfield, PhD, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Sport Nutrition Specialist, and Certified Exercise Physiologist with Peak Performance in Ottawa. Beth educates Canadian athletes on sport nutrition for health and performance.

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