Should Athletes Consume Very High Levels of Protein?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that people consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. Intensely training athletes probably need about 1.5 grams per kilogram. Is more protein unwarranted, and is it dangerous? Kevin Tipton from the University of Stirling in the UK, in a review of literature, concluded that most athletes don’t need more than 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram body weight per day. However, increasing protein intake beyond that during weight loss promotes decreases in body fat and maintenance of muscle mass. He also speculated that extremely high protein intakes (1.5–2 grams per kilogram) might protect intensely training athletes against injury. He noted that before agriculture, ancient humans subsisted mainly on meat. Our genes are programmed for physically active cave people to consume large amounts of protein. Highly active athletes are capable of eating higher amounts of proteins that they do. (Proceedings Nutrition Society, 70: 205–214)