Physical Performance

Nutrition is an important aspect in athletic performance. Download these shareable videos, graphics, handouts and recipes to help promote the power of protein and eggs.

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Protein in the Athlete’s Diet

Today’s post comes from Dr. Donald Layman. Dr. Layman is the Director of Research at the Egg Nutrition Center and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois and a leading researcher studying dietary needs for protein and amino acids.

The importance of protein for athletes is well accepted but still confusing. Athletes hear lots of different messages about the amount of protein to eat and when to eat it. There are three simple messages about protein. The first message is that all adults interested in muscle health need to consume multiple daily meals each containing 30 grams of protein. To maintain healthy muscles, we must continuously make new proteins and breakdown old ones. The repair and replacement process only occurs during the anabolic periods after protein intake.

Most Americans eat the majority of their protein in a single large dinner meal with less than 10 grams of protein at breakfast. Your morning high fiber cereal with 8 grams of protein is useless for muscle health. Adults should have three meals each day with at least 30 grams of protein and breakfast is the most important meal of your day!

If you’re a bodybuilder trying to achieve maximum muscle size, you may want 4 to 6 meals each containing 30 g of protein. If you’re a runner, you need at least 3 meals to optimize muscle repair and recovery.
ENC-PT-kit-image-1-300x230Surprisingly, the 30 g amount is the same for a small woman or a large guy and appears to relate more to blood volume than body size. If a meal contains less than 20 g there is no benefit to muscle health.

Second, athletes should consume protein soon after exercise to accelerate muscle repair and recovery. Intense exercise produces muscle damage – exercise is said to be catabolic or cause muscle breakdown. This is part of soreness but also an essential part of muscle training. To optimize training and minimize soreness, athletes need to consume protein within about 1 hour after exercise. The good news is that exercise increases the efficiency of protein use, so after exercise, 15 grams of a high quality whey protein or egg whites will maximize recovery.

The third message is that protein before exercise is not helpful. Protein consumed ahead of exercise has no beneficial effects on the quality of the workout or the speed of recovery. Protein is also slow to digest and may make you feel full and sluggish if consumed too close to exercise.

Whatever your athletic level, be sure to get the most out of your exercise with the right amounts of protein at the right times every day.

Fueling for Exercise

Today’s post is written by one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors, Dr. Jason Karp. Dr. Karp is a nationally recognized running coach, 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and owner of He holds a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. He writes for international running, coaching, and fitness magazines, is the author of five books, including 101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners and Running for Women, and is a frequent speaker at national fitness and coaching conferences.

The ability to exercise for prolonged periods is strongly influenced by the amount of carbohydrate stored in skeletal muscles (glycogen), with intense endurance exercise decreasing muscle glycogen stores. Most people have enough glycogen to provide energy for only about 70 minutes of running.

At low exercise intensities, some of carbohydrate’s metabolic responsibility for energy regeneration is relieved by fat. Even with the contribution of fat helping to delay the depletion of glycogen, moderate-intensity exercise can only be sustained for two to three hours. With increasing exercise intensity, fat use decreases while carbohydrate use increases. When you run out of carbohydrates, your muscles are forced to rely on fat and consequently your exercise intensity drops because your muscles regenerate energy slower when using fat compared to when using carbohydrates.

Fueling Before Exercise

Many people skip breakfast before doing a workout. Because blood glucose is low first thing in the morning, it’s not a good idea to exercise on an empty stomach, as that would diminish the quality of the workout. At least a half hour before you go out the door to run, eat 200 to 300 calories of carbohydrates and protein, like a bagel with peanut butter. If you run soon after getting out of bed and don’t have at least a half hour before you run, consume 100 to 200 calories, like a nutrition bar, a banana, and a sports drink.

Fueling After Exercise

Refueling nutrient-depleted muscles is possibly the single most important aspect of optimal recovery. And the most important nutrient to replenish is carbohydrate. Muscles are picky when it comes to the time for synthesizing and storing glycogen. Although glycogen continues to be synthesized until storage in muscles is complete, the process is most rapid if you consume carbohydrates within the first 30 to 60 minutes after your workout. Indeed, delaying carbohydrate ingestion for two hours after a workout significantly reduces the rate of glycogen resynthesis. To maximize the synthesis and storage of glycogen, consume 0.6 to 0.7 gram of simple carbohydrate (sugar, preferably glucose) per pound of body weight every two hours for a few hours after your workout.

Protein is another important nutrient to consume after hard and long workouts, especially when trying to build muscle. To repair muscle fibers damaged during training, consume 20 to 30 grams of complete protein (which contain all essential amino acids) after your workout. My research, along with other studies, has shown that chocolate milk, with its high carbohydrate and protein contents, is a great post-workout recovery drink (yum!).

For more information on running, check out and

Training for a Race? Improving Performance? Don’t Forget Protein!

Whether you are training for your first 5K or a marathon, proper nutrition is very important. Protein is sometimes overlooked as an important nutrient in running, but it is great for impact and recovery. An article from Runner’s World discusses some of the research behind protein and includes ways for runners to include protein throughout the day. Ultimately, eating adequate amounts of protein throughout the day, as well as during recovery will help runners succeed.

ENC recently attended the IDEA World of Fitness Conference with personal trainers. While not all personal trainers focused on running, we were able to educate this group about the importance of high-quality protein for performance.  It was exciting to see how well received ENC was at the exhibit and to hear many of the personal trainers are eating whole eggs, along with egg whites.  The trainers I spoke with told me they have learned many of the vitamins and minerals are in the yolk and it prompted them not to skip the yolk when eating eggs.  We also handed out ENC’s Trainer Protein Toolkit (see link below to download) to over 300 trainers to use as a tool with their clients.

Mitch Kanter PhD, ENC executive director, presented “New Research on Protein Metabolism, Recovery, and Satiety,” at IDEA, emphasizing the need to have about 30 grams of protein per meal to signal leucine uptake.

Remember high-quality protein is an important part of running and other physical activities. Have you had your “spread” of protein today?

P.S. This year, our booth was right next to Subway and they offer great egg breakfast options for those on the go! Delicious!

Get Your Plate In Shape:Motivation

Today’s guest post is from Personal Trainer Travis Burkybile. Travis has a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and a NCFS certification. He works as a Strength Coach at Corefitnesschicago.

At this time of year, warmer weather is on everyone’s minds, the holidays are a distant memory, and tax season is in full swing. Your fitness routine is probably the last thing you are thinking about right now. So how do you keep your New Year’s commitment or get started if you are ready to take the plunge?

Working as a coach in the fitness industry for the last 6 years in a corporate gym setting and a smaller private training facility, I have gotten to know what works and what does not work so well for my clients. The biggest hurdles for most people, regardless of where and how they workout are making the time for exercise and wanting results too quickly. Today, I will share some ideas that have helped my clients overcome these barriers.

How can you make time for fitness and stay motivated to continue? If you are starting a new fitness plan, or looking to improve on your current one take a lesson from Leo Babuta in the book The Power of Less. He advises that when beginning an exercise program start slowly and always leave enough room to do a little bit more. This tactic keeps you engaged and motivated to return to your workout. It is much more beneficial to be consistent when building a habit than it is to try and get it all done in a day or even a week. This will also make it easier from a time perspective to fit exercise into your existing lifestyle. If you are already doing a program, change it! Shorten your rest breaks, change your reps, and the gains will come again.

The most important part of any exercise program is what you get out of it. Whether training to improve a pain or weakness, improve your body composition, or be stronger, it is important to see results. There are multiple ways to measure such as body fat percentage, circumferences, personal bests in races and training, and many more. If you are stuck with motivation, results, or both hire a qualified coach! The best motivation is success.

Remember this final tip. A project, a habit, or a lifestyle change is successful when you restart it every day. It is a willful and conscious decision to start again rather than simply continue. You aren’t in a pattern, good or bad, if you aren’t doing it. Restart your own fitness today!

IDEA World of Fitness Conference

health fitness

Last week I had the opportunity to exhibit for the Egg Nutrition Center at the IDEA World of Fitness conference. This is the first foray the Egg Nutrition Center has made into communicating with the fitness and personal trainer profession. We recognize that with increased awareness of the importance of exercise for improved health, weight control and strength in aging, the personal trainer community has often been asked to be a resource about good nutrition. We learned earlier this year from a focus group that we conducted with personal trainers, that the personal trainer scope of practice does not include nutrition counseling although they share a strong interest in nutrition as it relates to health and body composition. However, since the exercise and fitness profession is seen by many as a good role model of healthy living, we felt it was important to reach out to this professional group with accurate information about eggs and overall nutrition.

Our observations from our focus group with personal trainers were reinforced at the IDEA World of Fitness Conference exhibit when many attendees stopped by showing interest in learning more about eggs and the many nutritional benefits of egg intake. The people I met were genuinely enthusiastic about eating eggs and were pleased to learn that including an egg yolk in their multiple egg white meal would offer so many vitamin and mineral benefits. We talked about the additional benefits of satiety to keep from hunger during long practices and the role of amino acid leucine that signals muscle synthesis making eggs a good protein source after exercise. Many attendees also wanted to know more about the benefits of additional nutrients in specialty eggs such as enhanced content of lutein, omega-3 fatty acids and choline. I was pleased that most people who came to our booth had a basic knowledge about the eye health benefits of lutein, the infant brain development benefits of choline as well as the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids but wanted to know more because they were already convinced that eggs were an inexpensive source of high quality protein.

In fact, this group of exercise enthusiasts serves as a wonderful example of how eating eggs, while maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising regularly, can reduce the risk of most chronic disease.