This is adapted from the book, Eat Smart, Play Hard, by RW USA Nutrition Editor Liz Applegate.
Every part of your body contains protein, from your muscles and blood and immune cells to your tendons, ligaments, skin, and hair. Sedentary people need 50 to 70 grams of protein a day to keep them going. Fit people need 25 to 50 percent more to take care of muscle repair and increased energy requirements.
The dilemma with protein is that the very people who need more of it, such as endurance exercisers, are often the ones who dont get enough because they tend to eat less meat than sedentary people and bodybuilders, and meat is one of the best sources of protein.
Skimping on protein can cause fatigue and slow recovery from injuries and infections, so be sure youre getting enough from high-quality sources such as lean meat, soybeans (in the form of tofu, soy milk, or soy protein), fish, and low-fat dairy products.
My recommendation: Each day, try to include 5 to 6 ounces of lean meat or two to three servings of soy products, plus two to three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and several servings of grains along with legumes (especially if youre a vegan). Unless youre a vegan who is allergic to soy, you probably dont need to supplement with protein shakes or energy bars.