I am writing a little nutrition presentation for the young dancers at the Edinburgh dance academy to give them a bit of in insight into keeping their bodies healthy. Although a lot of the session is on every day healthy eating, these girls are athletes, training for 8 hours a day and performing regularly. How to get adequate protein into the diet is one of the questions I was asked to cover and whether or not they should be having protein shakes as a quick and easily-digestible way to eat. I don’t think this is the case and I wouldn’t encourage young people to start guzzling protein shakes. Most people consume enough if not too much protein just from their every day diet and a large excess of protein puts unnecessary strain on the kidneys to excrete the surplus.
Many foods contain high amounts of protein and I will be encouraging the intake of these foods to the dancers to help their muscles recover after their repetitive and strenuous training regimes.
Here’s a few of the most common protein sources:
100g of beef = 28g protein
100g chicken = 25g protein
100g cod = 21g protein
Peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, red lentils and cashews all contain a high proportion of protein per 100g (around 18-26g)
Cheddar cheese = 25g protein per 100g
Pint of milk = 19g
One medium egg = 6g
Quinoa = 12g per 100g
It’s always important to remember that a lot of plant products can be high in protein but these aren’t always “complete” i.e. they may lack 1 or 2 of the essential amino acids. Animal proteins tend to have all of the essential amino acids so are generally a better protein source. For some of the plant sources for example the nuts, eating 100g of cashews to get the 18g of protein will be incredibly high in calories so just be mindful and consume in moderation!