Why is protein important?
Everyone needs protein! Think of it this way —all parts of our body are made from protein.  Kids need it to grow, and adults need it for upkeep. It’s needed to make hormones, antibodies and enzymes which “spark” reactions inside the body. New red blood cells depend upon protein as do muscles, hair, nails, skin and bones.  Since active people need to repair muscle tissue, we need to consume more than sedentary folks.

What is a complete protein?
There are nine amino acids that we must take in from food, because the body cannot make them. These are called the essential amino acids and are all required for our body to formulate body proteins.  When all of the nine essential amino acids are present in a food, it is referred to as a complete protein. They are found in all animal based foods: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt.Milk, which is a complete protein on its own, contains enough extra amino acids to complete the protein in grains (cereal and milk).

How much protein do athletes need?
Endurance athletes like runners, cyclists, race walkers, crew (rowing), distance swimmers, cross country ski require 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kg body weight per day while total needs for athletes trying to build muscle mass are 1.6-1.8 g/kg.

When to consume protein?
After strength training, it’s best to have a recovery snack including 10-20 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes, along with some quick digesting carbs. For the rest of the day, spreading protein evenly among meals has been shown to positively affect muscle as well. Dairy proteins seem to offer some advantage for muscle building over other protein sources.A specific amino acid, leucine, found in dairy foods, may be a key factor in triggering muscle protein building and repair.