By Valerie Jarvensivu
Hydration is vital for life. The majority of the metabolic reactions in the body rely on water in order to proceed. Our bodies make product and heat. Every product that we put in has to be broken down in order to be utilized. This catabolic process requires varying amounts of energy. It is much more efficient from an energy-use perspective to put in what can be used naturally and easily without extra steps. Water is the obvious pure choice, but we can also get fluid from our foods such as soups, fruits, and vegetables.
How much fluid do we need?
As an athlete, you will need to monitor fluid loss by weighing yourself before and after exercise, but the general recommendation for adult fluid intake by the Institute of Medicine is 3.7L/day for men and 2.7L/day for women. Everybody has different fluid requirements, so careful self-analysis is recommended to determine individual needs.
Protein is a hot topic these days. Proteins have a variety of physiological roles including structure (e.g. rebuilding muscle cells), transport, enzymes, hormones, and immunologic functions. Proteins contain nitrogen and are made up of amino acids. Some sources of dietary amino acids are meats, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, legumes, and soy. Complete proteins such as eggs, milk, and meat are foods that contain all of the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot make. Vegetarians should consume combinations of grains and legumes, eggs, and dairy that will provide all of the essential amino acids. To calculate how many grams of protein you need per day, follow these easy steps:
- Divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert lbs. to kg.
- Multiply your weight in kg. by .8 for normal protein needs (.8g/kg)
- Or, Multiply your weight in kg. by 1.0 for increased exercise (1.0g/kg)
Sample Calculation: 150 pound (68.2kg) runner that runs 70-80 miles per week would require 68 grams of protein per day (150/2.2=68.2 X 1.0=68.2g/PRO/day).
For planning purposes, an egg can provide 6-8g, a glass of whole milk provides 8g, 4 oz. of grilled chicken breast provides around 36g, 5 oz. of Greek yogurt provides between 13-15g, and a cup of cooked lentils provides 18g. Recent studies have shown that eating 25-30g of protein as part of every meal throughout the day provides the optimal amount of protein.
Think about how you can make intentional food choices including fluids and high quality protein in the coming week to feel and train better!
Ms. Jarvensivu, B.S., M.S., has successfully run distances from the mile up to 50 miles and looks forward to training for a 100-miler soon. When she isn’t studying or conducting research, she can be found running out on the roads and trails of SW Washington, gardening, or cooking with locally-sourced ingredients. She pursued my Masters in Human Nutrition Science from UA and is now in the first year of the WSU Ph.D. Prevention Science program in Vancouver, WA. Two vital lessons she learned from her study of healthful eating and how the body processes food are the importance of hydration and protein on physiological processes.