Meat Proteins
in Your Sports Nutrition Plan

Protein in an important part of your sports nutrition plan. Meat protein in the new pyramid includes poultry, eggs, fish, beef and pork.

  • Are all sources whole foods?

  • Fresh cuts of protein and whole eggs are considered whole foods. Frozen sources are convenient and are comparable in nutrition when cooked. Processing the protein to get it into a can or plastic container (like lunchmeat) compromises the nutrition through heat and the addition of preservatives.

  • Am I eating enough protein?

  • The current guideline for protein intake is 5½ ounces (or equivalent) everyday. Keep in mind that you will also get protein from milk products, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables. So, even if you don’t eat animal proteins (for personal reasons or because you are vegetarian), you can easily get enough protein for training or performance. Set your sports nutrition plan accordingly.

  • What is a serving size?

  • A serving is 1 ounce of cooked protein or 1 egg, so combine your choices for the 5 ½ ounce minimum goal. There are about 7 grams of protein per ounce of a meat protein.

  • How will protein impact my training?

  • Meat proteins do not provide carbohydrates, so they are not considered fuel choices. Too much protein could crowd out your carbs, leaving you without energy. Most proteins do not contain dietary fiber, but some proteins are high fat, which could give you an uncomfortable full feeling during training or performance.

    Protein is necessary everyday for building and repairing tissue. Most women can get adequate protein from food and may not need protein supplements. Meat proteins are excellent providers of iron needed for oxygen rich blood, and B vitamins used in your fuel production. Fish protein is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

    Including protein in a snack after a session or event is important for muscle recovery.

  • How will this protein source impact my lifetime fitness?

  • The biggest long-term concern with animal proteins is their saturated fat and cholesterol content. Large amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol are not heart healthy. You should choose lean proteins (light meat poultry, “loin” cuts of beef and pork, and fish). Egg whites contain the protein you want…toss out the yolks to get rid of the fat and cholesterol in the egg. Eating fish several times per week is heart healthy. Remember that plant proteins (beans, nuts and seeds, and soy) are healthy protein alternatives. High protein diets may end up being unhealthy low fiber diets.

    Ready to set a sports nutrition goal related to meat or protein in general? Compare your intake to the current guidelines. Your nutrition plan could be adjusted by replacing animal protein with plant protein several times per week.

    Return to whole foods in sports nutrition.