High Protein Diets for Performance

High protein diets, such as the Atkins and South Beach diets, have gained in popularity over the years for their efficient weight loss. Many athletes have lost weight using these diets. However, athletes should be aware of the effects of a high protein diet. Much of the weight lost using these diets is due to a lower calorie intake and to water loss that 712043_peanuts__1occurs with muscle glycogen depletion. Glycogen is energy that is stored in muscles, and it retains water in the muscle. This stored energy and water is essential to high performance.

Endurance athletes understand the need for a high carbohydrate low fat diet. Strength athletes have traditionally believed that a high protein diet is key for building muscle. Sports nutritionists believe this is an exaggeration among strength athletes, such as weightlifters. Powerful muscle contractions require carbohydrates and glycogen in the muscles. Fats and proteins are not able to meet the necessary demands of a high intensity exercise without carbohydrates. Carbohydrates must be consumed regularly to keep glycogen at an adequate level.

Research has shown that an inadequate level of carbohydrates can result in reduced glycogen storage in the muscles and liver, an increased risk of hypoglycemia, and a reduction of serum glucose levels, endurance, and maximal effort. Also, high protein high fat diets can result in increased risk of certain cancers, increased risk of osteoporosis, and a reduced intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Sports Nutrition

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