The science – why do athletes need protein?

Dietary protein provides amino acids, which are components of muscle. The specific muscles that ingested protein progresses are:

  • Contractile – cause muscle contractionsby converting chemical energy to mechanical work.
  • Structural proteins – provide support for muscles to move bone levers and therefore limbs.
  • Regulatory enzymes – to speed up reactions, specifically metabolism of dietary macronutrients to convert them to energy accessible for the body.

As you can see from their functions, strengthening and building these muscles will improve performance.

To maintain muscle mass, its breakdown and synthesis must be balanced.

To gain muscle, its synthesis must be larger than its breakdown – resulting in a positive protein balance[1].

Different muscle masses are gained in different proportions depending on the type of training that is done:

  • Endurance training –
    • Gains mitochondrial mass– increases mitochondria which converts unusable energy to useable energy when oxygen is present.
  • Resistance training –
    • Gains myofibrillar mass– enhances strength and lean body mass.

Both of these types of training increase protein synthesis AND breakdown after exercise; however, to make muscle, amino acids must be present. Without a large pool of amino acids, muscle breakdown occurs without synthesis[2]. Amino acids are ingested from dietary proteins.

Continue reading The science – why do athletes need protein?

Prawn Pesto Pasta

Tasty, tasty, tasty… and providing a whopping 3 OF YOUR 5 A DAY, a solid 32 grams of protein, and plenty of vitamins and minerals to improve your health.

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS:

  • 75g wholewheat spaghetti
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5 spears of asparagus
  • 70g frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp basil pesto
  • 2 tbsp fat-free creme fraiche
  • 60g king prawns
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil

METHOD:

  1. Boil water in a pan and add the pasta, set a timer for 10 minutes – with 4 minutes to go, you will need to add the asparagus tips and the frozen peas.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan, add the tomatoes and prawns (you can use either cooked or raw prawns – if cooking from raw just make sure they are pink all the way through when fully cooked) and heat for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic to the prawn pan and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Drain the pasta, asparagus and peas.
  5. Arrange the asparagus on a plate.
  6. Mix in the pesto and creme fraiche into the pasta and peas, and serve on the asparagus. Top with the garlic prawns and tomatoes.
  7. Enjoy!

NUTRITION:

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Prawns – high in protein for muscle repair and growth, and low in fat.

Wholewheat pasta – high in starchy carbs for energy which will keep you going, and fibre to improve digestion.

Asparagus – high in vitamin A for vision, vitamin B6 for energy release, and folate for DNA synthesis.

Tomatoes – massively high in vitamin C for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis; it also has functions in detoxification and as an antioxidant. It also gives you vitamin A for vision and immune function, and potassium for fluid balance and muscle contraction.

Peas – providing potassium, vitamin B6 for energy and dietary fibre for bowel moment.

Creme Fraiche – no fat (as fat-free version is bought), and high in calcium for bone strength.

 

Super FLUFFY Omelette

Lazy mornings are times of chilled out breakfasts… enjoy with this fluffy omelette and a cup of coffee to keep you fuller for longer.

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp olive oil

METHOD:

  1. Separate the egg yolks and egg whites.
  2. Use a fork to whisk the egg yolks until combined.
  3. Using an electronic whisk, or a hand whisk, stir the egg whites until peaks have formed (like you are making meringue).
  4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan (with a lid).
  5. Fold in the egg yolks to the whisked whites.
  6. Add the mixture to the hot pan, reduce the heat to low-medium, and cover for 10minutes until crispy at the bottom and hot all the way through.
  7. Serve and season (add any fillers if needed).
  8. Enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Eggs – Eggs are the most useful protein source as they provide essential amino acids (the building molecules of protein), which are also absorbed most efficiently by the body.

Clam Chorizo Linguine

Spanish food fever has hit; being in Barcelona inspired this meat and fish combo. Easy to make but super impressive.

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 300g clams, washed (tap on hard surface before cooking, if they remain un-open they are safe to eat)
  • 70g chorizo, chopped
  • 4 sprigs parsley, chopped
  • 150g dried linguine
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 glass rosé wine

METHOD

  1. Boil the pasta in a pot of salted water for 1minute less than the packet states.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan on a medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chorizo and cook for 3minutes until slightly crispy.
  4. Add the parsley, clams and red wine, stir once, and then cover and simmer for 3-4minutes – the clams are cooked when they ping open.
  5. Uncover, mix in the linguine, and simmer for a further 1 minute so it can absorb all the juices.
  6. Season and serve.
  7. Enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Clams – high in protein, low in calorie, and high in the B vitamins for energy release, iron for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis, and magnesium for nerve function

Chorizo – Although relatively high in fat and salt, this meat is good for adding texture and flavour to meals.

Pasta – High in carbohydrates for a filling base, and high in fibre if a wholewheat spaghetti is picked.

Sausage and Bean Filling

Perfect to pair with a jacket potato or to top pasta with…. or just eat on its own for the ultimate protein hit!

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 reduced-fat sausages, cut in half
  • 400g tomato passata
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 8 sliced prosciutto ham
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cans black eye beans, drained
  • 1 tsp olive oil

METHOD:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a high heat.
  2. Add the sausages and brown for 2-3minutes, or until there is no pink showing on the outside of the sausage.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the garlic, beans and prosciutto ham, and cook for a further 3minutes.
  5. Add the tomato purée, ketchup, smoked paprika and vinegar and stir to cook for 2minutes.
  6. Add the tomato passata and heat for 5-7minutes.
  7. Serve with pasta or jacket potato.
  8. Enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Sausages and prosciutto ham – High in protein and the B vitamins for carbohydrate and energy utilisation, and mineral phosphorus for bone and protein function.

Tomatoes – massively high in vitamin C for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis; it also has functions in detoxification and as an antioxidant. It also gives you vitamin A for vision and immune function, and potassium for fluid balance and muscle contraction.

Beans – high in plant-based protein and fibre for digestion, as well as folate for DNA synthesis and vitamin A for vision

Pesto Bread Roll-Ups

Yummy yummy yummy – a picnic tear-off bread roll bunch for enjoying those sunny park lunches!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp green or red pesto
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 500g bread/ spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g oil
  • 300ml tepid water

METHOD:

  1. Sieve flour into a large bowl. Add yeast and salt, and mix with fingers.
  2. Make a deep well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
  3. Put the oil in the well.
  4. Add most of the water to the well.
  5. To combine, mix the flour which is around the oil/water mix into the well – you are combining the ingredients outside in. Add the rest of the water until a firm dough has formed.
  6. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 15 minutes – until it becomes less sticky and more resilient (stretchy not breaking).
  7. Leave somewhere warm in a bowl (covered by greaseproof paper and then a tea towel on top) for 1-2 hours until it doubles in size.
  8. Once proved, roll out into a large thin rectangle – a similar thickness to an Italian pizza base, and spread on the pesto. Other ingredients can be added at this stage – cheese or parma ham is a tasty addition to roll in.
  9. Now it is time to roll – this is done by rolling the longest edge towards the other longest edge so that we get a longer rolled sausage shape at the end (so we have even more rolls!). Start by curling the edge around to start the roll, and slowly tease the dough so it is curling in on itself.IMG_2268.jpg
  10. Cut into 12 equal pieces, and place in a greased tin with space for them to grow.IMG_2277.jpg
  11. Leave somewhere warm (covered by greaseproof paper and then a tea towel on top) for 1-2 hours until the rolls fill the tin.
  12. Heat oven to 180/4, and bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes.
  13. Enjoy!

NUTRITION

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Cauliflower-Base Pizza

A lighter meal but still AMAZINGLY yummy and, I would argue, is an even better alternative to regular pizza.

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g cauliflower couscous
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 60g 30% lighter cheese, grated or sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 2 tsp green pesto
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Seasoning

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 220/8.
  2. Combine the cauliflower couscous, eggs and oregano to make a ‘dough’.
  3. Spread the olive oil onto baking parchment – this is important as the dough will stick if not (I found this out the hard way!).
  4. Create a ball with the cauliflower and mould into pizza-base form.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until hard and browning on the outside like a normal pizza base.
  6. Spread the tomato puree on, and add the toppings.
  7. Cook for a further 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
  8. Top with more fresh basil.
  9. Enjoy!

NUTRITION

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Only contributing 11.89g of carbohydrate per serving, this low-calorie meal provides 21g of protein and is good for a lighter dinner.

Cauliflower – High in vitamin C for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis; and vitamin K for bone construction and cell signalling.

Eggs – Eggs are the most useful protein source as they provide essential amino acids (the building molecules of protein), which are also absorbed most efficiently by the body.

Cheese – Despite the high fat content, cheese is high in calcium for bone strength and stability.

 

Beef Teriyaki

This meal, adapted from Japanese recipes, brings Wagamama’s straight to your plate and home, and is much lower in fat.

Serves 2.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g lean beef steak, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 300g mangetout or sugar-snap peas
  • 150g dry rice
  • Sesame seeds to top (optional)
  • Teriyaki sauce

Homemade teriyaki sauce:

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 60ml reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 120ml water
  • 60ml cold water
  • 5 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder

METHOD

  1. Heat the rice with boiling water and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a wok and cook the onion on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the diced beef and increase the heat; cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the pepper and mange tout, cook for a further 4 minutes, until the vegetables are heated through.
  5. Add the teriyaki sauce and heat for a further minute.
  6. Serve with the rice and top with sesame seeds.
  7. Enjoy!

Method for homemade teriyaki sauce:

  1. Mix the soy sauce, 120ml of water, brown sugar, honey, garlic and ginger powder in a sauce pan, heat until simmering.
  2. Mix the cornstarch and 60ml of water, and add to the simmering soy sauce mix.
  3. Keep stirring until thick, add water or more cornstarch until desired thickness.

NUTRITION

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PLEASE NOTE: this recipe is high in salt and sugar due to the teriyaki sauce. It  should be only eaten in moderation; and if wanting to reduce the sugar and salt, leave out the teriyaki sauce.

BUT…

Beef – High in protein and low in fat, when the lean version is bought. It is also high in vitamin B3, B6 and B12 for energy release in respiration, and iron for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis and immune function.

This recipe also provides 3 of your 5-a-day, so supplying even more vitamins and minerals.

written by a student dietitian