Did anyone increased protein intake and saw fitness gains?
I’m a vegan for a 10ish years (ride 10-15hpw, 34yo, 69kg, 179cm, 6%bf, 320ftp) and as a vegan I’m careful about proteins but to hit 2+g per kilo is not that easy and I rearly hit those values. So I’m wondered if protein intake can leads to platou or limit fitness gains and if someone increased it and see the gains?
I’m sure you can find muscle protein studies but they will probably all involve weight lifting rather than an endurance sport. I doubt the average joe rider here on the board could determine a performance difference between 1, 1.5, or 2g per kg of protein per day.
I will say that I noticed a marked improvement in my recovery when I upped my protein intake by adding a scoop of whey protein powder to my morning oatmeal breakfast. But again, I am a 50+ masters cyclist. It may not benefit those under 40. There are studies that show older athletes need more protein intake than younger athletes to fight off sarcopenia (muscle loss).
+1 to @stonerider - 60+ female here with definitely improved recovery time this year after with intention increasing protein and its timing soon after work out. With recovery time feeling more like younger years can be ready sooner for next hard work out - have made faster gains because of this improved readiness for 5 rides/week since focusing on the protein amount and its timing.
To the OP, 1 gram per kg is kind of on the light side. Your body needs to sense 2-3 grams of leucine to kick off muscle protein synthesis. This can be a challenge for vegans. For example, 3 ounces of tofu only contains 1.1 grams of leucine. You’d have to eat 6 ounces just to get to the minimum level. If you are eating legumes and other things, you may get there. You can also supplement with leucine if it’s hard to eat enough protein.
I would keep an eye on meals and try to get at least 30 grams of protein at least 3X per day. It’s better to get a solid bolus of protein rather than getting 10 grams here and 15 grams there never reaching high leucine levels. For athletes, a 4th bolus of 30 grams+ of protein is recommended. Body builders often go for 5 meals.
People often start their days protein deficient. One cup of oatmeal only has 6 grams of protein. If an athlete starts their day that way, they should find another 24+ grams of protein to eat with their oatmeal.
I’ve had surprisingly good success using Humapro tablets. Their protein comes from lentils, making them perfect for vegans, and because they’re tablets, they are ultimately portable and convenient. It’s also much more pleasant to swallow a few tablets after an outdoor ride than to mix up a recovery drink at the trailhead.
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