Protein Recommendations For Endurance Athletes

The ISSN, a leading sports nutrition organization, gives the following guidelines on the protein requirements for endurance athletes. The suggested amounts can be obtained through whole foods alone or in combination with a high-quality protein supplement.

Recommended Amount: 1.0 – 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram body weight daily

Example Sports: Long distance running and cycling

Unlike strength athletes, endurance athletes generally have no desire to have big, bulging muscles or carry around unnecessary weight; both of which could have an adverse impact on performance. Therefore, the recommended amount of daily protein for these individual is lower comparatively. The underlying mechanisms for the need for higher amounts of protein (greater than 0.8) in an endurance athlete’s diet are related to tissue repair and the use of branched chain amino acids as a fuel source. Per the ISSN, “where the endurance athlete falls within this recommended range depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise, as well as the training status of the individual.

For example, an elite endurance athlete requires a greater level of protein intake approaching the higher end of the range. Additionally, as endurance exercise increases in intensity and duration, there is an increased oxidation of branched-chain amino acids, which creates a demand within the body for protein intakes at the upper end of this range.” Practically speaking when endurance training volume is high and intense more protein is required. During lower volume training (such as base training) fewer grams of protein are needed.

The table below outlines the amount of protein an endurance athlete should be eating daily based on body weight.

Daily Protein Requirements

Weight in kg. (lbs.)

Endurance Athletes

45 (100)

45 – 72 grams

50 (110)

50 – 80 grams

54 (120)

54 – 86 grams

59 (130)

59 – 95 grams

64 (140)

64 – 102 grams

68 (150)

68 – 109 grams

73 (160)

73 – 117 grams

77 (170)

77 – 123 grams

82 (180)

82 – 131 grams

86 (190)

86 – 138 grams

Read more about diets for endurance athletes here. Click here for a list of the best whey protein powders.