Protein

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Do athletes need protein supplements?

A healthy, balanced diet will generally provide all the energy, protein and other nutrients we need. Protein supplements are usually unnecessary for athletes.

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A healthy, balanced diet will generally provide all the energy and nutrients we need. Supplements are usually needed only if a deficiency is identified.

Eating protein-rich foods such as dairy products, meat, fish, eggs and soy should be sufficient to fulfil an athlete’s high protein needs. The intake of supplemental protein when the diet is already sufficient in protein will probably pose no additional benefit for the athlete. There is also little evidence that supplementing with individual amino acids is beneficial when athletes are already consuming an adequate diet. If athletes find it difficult to consume protein-rich food sources at the ideal time, a protein supplement may add some convenience to their training plan. However, athletes should be aware that some protein supplements may contain additional ingredients or impurities.

What is casein?

Casein is a collection of phosphoproteins (proteins linked to phosphorus) and makes up 80% of the protein fraction of cow’s milk. It mainly contains the amino acids histidine, methionine and phenylalanine, as well as the minerals calcium and phosphorus.

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Casein is a collection of phosphoproteins and makes up 80% of the protein fraction of cow’s milk. It has a high proportion of the amino acids histidine, methionine and phenylalanine and also carries the minerals calcium and phosphorus.

What are whey proteins?

Whey make up 20% of the protein of milk, which is essential for muscle maintenance.

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Whey proteins make up 20% of the protein component of milk. This type of protein is found in the watery component when milk is separated into solid curds and liquid whey during cheese making. Whey protein is rich in branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) and recognised for its role in muscle maintenance.

What are the benefits of dairy protein?

  • Dairy protein is a ‘complete’ protein because it contains all the essential amino acids.
  • It promotes gut function and prevents sarcopenia.
  • It promotes satiety, which helps with weight management.
  • It is a popular recovery drink after exercise.
  • Dairy protein also ensures bone health.

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  • The protein in dairy is considered a ‘complete’ protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids (building blocks) used during growth and repair. As such dairy protein helps to build and repair muscle tissue, supports movement, structure and growth of the body, helps with nutrient transport in the blood and across cell membranes, and contributes to immune function.
  • The protein in dairy further also helps to strengthen the function of the gut and its associated microflora, contributes to cell messaging and helps to prevent sarcopenia (age-related loss of skeletal muscle and strength).
  • Dairy protein may indirectly aid weight management through its effect on satiety and body composition. It also functions as a popular recovery drink after exercise.
  • Bone health is also related to the intake of dairy protein.

Is milk a good source of protein?

Milk is an excellent source of high-quality protein (80% casein and 20% whey protein). A 250 ml serving of milk contains 8 g protein.

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Milk is recognised as an excellent source of high-quality protein. Cow’s milk contains about 3.3% protein (8 g in a typical 250 ml serving), of which 80% is casein and 20% is whey protein.