Protein is a building block of life. Yet in the age of low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets, most people, including skiers, don't get enough. "In order to ski your best, have optimal recovery and have a great time, you need adequate protein in your diet," says Dr. Liz Applegate, professor of nutrition at University of California at Davis and author of Eat Your Way To A Healthy Heart. "I see a lot of people who skip meals during the week, therefore skipping protein. As a result, they suffer after a day on the slopes."
Protein is made up of amino acids that each fuel a different body function. Immune proteins fight off bacteria, red blood cell proteins carry oxygen, and muscle proteins provide power. Furthermore, because muscle fibers are in part made up of protein, they need protein for repair. Protein mends the small muscle tears that naturally occur during strenuous exercise such as strength training, running and, of course, skiing, helping muscles to function at their maximum.But just how much protein is enough? Applegate suggests skiers consume 25 percent more protein than the recommended daily allowance. "This is equal to about a half-gram of protein per pound of your body weight¿essentially your weight divided by two," says Applegate. For instance, a 170-pound male should consume about 85 grams per day. What about protein overdose? Says Applegate: "For such a high-endurance sport, there is little risk of getting too much."