The Importance of Protein for Triathletes

We all now know that adequate protein consumption is vital for your health, in this article from Endura we explore why adequate protein consumption is especially important for Triathletes, and how best to consume the protein your body needs.

“Your connective tissue, cell membranes and muscle cells need proteins to function. As endurance athletes, you especially need sufficient protein for muscle growth and repair. Your needs are not only higher than the average couch potato; your needs are comparable to that of a body builder. While body builders are aiming to build muscle, you need to rapidly reverse the natural breakdown of muscle that occurs following a workout. This will help you recover faster and train at greater intensity in your next training session.


How Protein Powers your Active Body

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are two types of amino acids; non-essential and essential. Non-essential amino acids are usually synthesised by your body from the foods you eat each day. The essential amino acids are critical for your health and fitness and must be in the food you eat, and/or in the supplements you take, as your body can’t produce them. Amino acids are required for a myriad of vital key metabolic processes, such as:

  • Forming hormones and enzymes
  • Contributing to the body’s acid-base balance
  • Immune function
  • Brain and nervous system health
  • Providing energy

Build and Retain Muscle with Branched Chain Amino Acids

As endurance athletes, you need protein to maintain and repair existing muscle mass, minimise exercise induced muscle breakdown, and prevent the signs and symptoms of protein deficiency. BCAA’s are different from other amino acids that make up protein, as they provide powerful fuel for building and repairing your muscle. Animal proteins, such as lean meat and fish, are the richest source of the BCAA’s – valine, leucine and isoleucine. If choosing a protein powder to mix as a recovery drink, whey protein isolate contains all of the essential amino acids and a healthy dose of BCAA’s.


Timing is Everything

Protein may help improve your overall performance and recovery when supplemented pre- and post- exercise. Research has revealed that a mixture of the essential amino acids and carbohydrates taken before endurance exercise effectively stimulates protein synthesis after exercise. Also, by adding protein to your pre-exercise meal, you will have a lowered glycaemic index (GI) of the carbohydrates ingested along with it. This is good news for maintaining more regular blood sugar levels and a regular source of energy during your training.

The 30 minutes post-exercise is the most critical period, as your body is at its optimal state to receive and restore carbohydrates and protein. Muscle and body protein metabolism is a constant balance between protein breakdown and protein rebuilding. During exercise, the balance shifts towards protein breakdown, while during recovery, the balance shifts to protein rebuilding. By consuming protein immediately after exercise, it enhances muscle uptake and retention of amino acids. In fact, recent research suggests that protein works most effectively if taken in the post-exercise window. You know the feeling when you’ve nailed a 1-2 hour training session? Having a juicy steak or fish burger straight away is the last thing on your mind! It’s likely you’re thirsty, so what better way to replenish your protein than with a delicious protein-packed shake. Endura Maintain mixed with some seasonal fruit, is an excellent choice for post-training recovery and repair.


What about Caffine?

Caffeine has been given a hard time in the past. One common misconception is that caffeine causes athletes to become dehydrated due to its diuretic effect. Research suggests that small to moderate doses of caffeine have minimal effects on urine losses or the person’s overall hydration levels. In other words, caffeine has been shown to have no negative consequences on electrolyte balance for athletes.


Fuel for Optimal Performance

For optimal strength, power and to ensure you can reach your training goals, a good guideline for pure protein intake as an endurance athlete is approximately 1.5-1.7 g per kg of body weight daily (see Table 1). Keeping in mind that this figure refers to pure protein, not food weight (e.g. 100 g cooked steak contains 30 g pure protein). This figure also varies depending on intensity and duration. Let’s look at a 70 kg triathlete as an example: this athlete will need approximately 112 g of protein daily while in full training season. This equates to about 375 g of cooked chicken or beef (see Table 2). Sometimes eating these quantities of food is difficult, so supplementing with a quality high protein powder such as Endura Maintain is more convenient. Endura Maintain contains 16 g of pure protein per serve.


Table 1: Current recommendations for protein intake based on body weight (kg)



Amount for a 70kg person (g)

RDA for adults 0.8


Strength-trained athletes, muscle mass maintenance phase 1.0-1.2


Strength-trained athletes, muscle mass gain phase 1.5-1.7


Moderate-intensity endurance activity athletes 1.2


High-intensity endurance athletes 1.7




Table 2: Approximate protein content of foods

Food (cooked) Weight (g) Protein (g)
Steak 100 30
Chicken 100 30
Fish 120 30
Tofu 250 30


Protein Packed Endura

In today’s fast paced society, with jam-packed work and training schedules, it is not always conducive to being organised in the kitchen. We understand that you may not have a ‘master chef’ at home, so to make sure you reach your protein requirements, Endura has a range of high quality protein supplements.

Protein for PowerEndura Optimizer and Endura Maintain contain the highest biological value protein available. The whey protein isolate in Endura Optimizer and Endura Maintain is specifically hydrolysed and predigested to form a complex of di- and tri-peptides. Di- and tri-peptides are absorbed faster than amino acids and offer up to 16 times greater nitrogen retention for maximum muscle recovery and repair.

Whey protein isolate possesses the highest biological value of all known foods. Biological Value (BV) is a measurement of the amount of protein retained in the human body per gram of protein absorbed. The higher the BV of a food, or supplement, the greater the retention of its constituent proteins by the body. The standard BV upon which other foods are measured is whole eggs, with a BV of 100. Top quality whey protein isolate in Endura Maintain and Optimizer contains a massive BV of around 159.


Nutrition Matters

Remember your food is your fuel and getting enough nutrients needs to be one of your top priorities. Supplementation is exactly that – supplementary to core nutrition. The following foods contain protein so try incorporating them into your everyday training diet.

  • Animal products: beef, lamb, pork, veal, kangaroo, fish, chicken, duck, eggs (try to choose lean meat cuts, locally sourced, free range and hormone free).
  • Dairy Products: cheese, milk, yoghurt.
  • Vegetarian choices: tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans, rice and soy milks & yoghurts.

If this has made you stop and think about your diet and protein intake, do exactly that. Get going and get pumped for your next sports season with Endura.”


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Articles on training-related topics represent the personal opinions of the author based on their own experience and research. provides these for your review and consideration, but does not endorse any particular recommendations of the authors. 


Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.