Sunday, June 26, 2011

Athlete Protein Intake

Protein Intake:
Are You Getting Enough or Too Much?

It is always difficult to determine how much of a macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates or fat) is OK for your diet plan. What is enough? What is too much? What is considered best based on current research? I wrote this bit on protein on the basis of questions. These are questions that are common in the fitness industry. For the section about the 'client' I used my own personal information. OK, so now you know I am a tiny individual. I was also a professional dancer (athlete) for 15 years and my caloric intake is nothing like it use to be. I hope that you will find this little "study" relate-able. 

1)     How can you determine the protein intake required for an individual.  

There has been quite a bit a research regarding protein and athletic benefit. The Food and Nutrition Board that states that there is little scientific evidence to support that recreational or non-elite athletes consume more than the recommended 0.8 g/kg/d of protein (Venderley & Campbell, 2006). However, this number is constantly contradicted in numerous studies and nutrition literature. Many studies support the consumption of 1.2 – 1.4 g/kg for endurance athletes and 1.6 – 1.7 g/kg for strength athletes (Phillips, Moore & tang, 2007). The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 1.0 – 1.6 g/kg determined by activity level for athletes (Fuhrmann & Ferreri, 2009). Some studies have even shown that athletes can consume as much as 3 g/kg safely based on the recommended percentage of protein caloric intake, however, there is limited proof as to any benefit with intakes this high (Phillips et al., 2007). An athlete with a high caloric diet will naturally consume a higher gram rate of protein.

My client is a 38 year old male that weighs 154 lbs (70 kg). His diet runs him up at about 2000 Kcal p/d. He exercises on average ≥60 min per day or 300 min per week. His training includes, but is not limited to, 30-40 min of cardio, stretching, resistance training, agility training, power training and ultimate Frisbee. My client is active for the sole purpose of maintaining health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this would place him as an active “recreational” athlete (Laquale, 2009). Since my client is considered a recreational athlete it is recommended that my client consume 15% of his diet in protein (Laquale, 2009). 2000 * .15 = 300 kcal from protein, 300 kcal / 4 kcal = 75 g protein, 75 g / 70 kg = 1.07 g/kg. It would be recommended that my athlete consume 1.07 g/kg of protein per day. As you can see this is above the recommended 0.8 g/kg by the Food and Nutrition Board, but is within the recommended limits of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and within range of the American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetic Association and the Dieticians of Canada (Venderley & Campbell, 2006).

2)    Consider the same individual- what would your recommendations change based  on the following scenarios:

a) The athlete is a vegan 

There are no major changes that should be made if my client were to be a vegan. Vegans are a type of vegetarian whose diet excludes all animal and animal derived products such as dairy, gelatin, or even honey. They are completely void of any and all meat sources and there is ample evidence that vegans are capable of providing all of their caloric needs through their diets (Venderley & Campbell, 2006). However, plant proteins sometimes are not all completely digested due to their high fiber content, so it would be recommended that they increase their protein intake by 10% (Venderley & Campbell, 2006). This would mean that if my client were to continue consuming 75 g/d of protein he would most likely not benefit from all of the protein consumed. He would then increase his intake by 7.5 g/protein per day (75g * 0.1 = 7.5g). It would be best for my athlete to eat from a variety of plant sources to get their supply of protein. Some great sources for plant proteins are tofu, nuts, seeds and hemp seed meal (Fuhrmann & Ferreri, 2009).  There is plenty of evidence that vegans and other vegetarians are capable of producing ample power, strength and endurance to become elite athletes. Some famous vegetarian athletes are Carl Lewis, Tony Gonzales and Kenneth Williams (Fuhrman & Ferreri, 2010).

Since my client would be missing the animal elements in his diet it would be advisable for him to talk to a dietician about Zinc, Iodine, vitamins B12 and D, Iron, Calcium, Omega-3 fatty acid and Taurine supplementation (Fuhrman & Ferreri, 2009). Creatine might be an issue for the power athlete, since it is found only meat, fish and poultry. The body can produce approximately 1 g/d of creatine (Venderley & Campbell, 2006). This amount might not be enough to satisfy the power athlete, so supplementation of creatine might also be recommended. My athlete does partake in power training (sprints, plymetrics and Tabata training), so it would be advisable for him to supplement with creatine. A dose of 3 g/d has been shown to significantly elevate creatine stores in the muscles of vegetarians (Venderley & Campbell, 2006). Since this amount has been shown to significantly increase creatine concentrations my athlete could consume an even lower dose to just maintain adequate concentrations of creatine within his muscles to help him with his power training.

b) The athlete is in a 500-1000 Calorie per day deficit (ie- the athlete is attempting to lose weight)

Since my athlete is pondering a negative caloric balance of 500 – 1000 kcal per day it would be advisable for my athlete to make sure that they are still getting an adequate amount of all macronutrients. A reduction in caloric intake can compromise the athlete’s endurance and power capabilities (Garthe et al., 2011). It would be advisable for my athlete to not exceed a caloric deficit of 500 kcal. This would put him at a caloric intake of 1500 kcal/d. In a study performed by Garthe et al., (2011) the athletes were placed on a diet that was no lower than 1500 kcal and consisted of 1.2 – 1.8 g/kg of protein, 4 – 6 g/kg of carbohydrates (CHO) and ≤20% from fat. This diet was determined to eliminate a loss of lean body mass and to provide adequate sources of energy for training (Garthe et al., 2011). My client could successfully reduce his calories from fat and CHO. The results of the study showed positive increases in lean body mass and weight loss without reducing power-performance during training. I would recommend my client to follow the protocols set up in this study to reduce his weight while training in a negative caloric balance.    

3)    How would you explain to a strength/power athlete consuming 3 g/Kg of protein per day in a eucaloric state that protein intake of that level does not lead to optimal performance.

Even though there is no evidence that 3 g/kg of protein per day is beneficial to his/her performance, there is also no evidence that 3 g/kg per day will cause detrimental affects to his/her health (Phillips et al., 2007). There is also no clear evidence that quantities larger than 2 g/kg produce benefits (Fuhrmann & Ferreri, 2010). There is also some evidence that states that consuming large quantities of protein can lead to kidney dysfunction, decreased bone health caused by poor calcium stores, and may negatively affect cardiovascular health (Fuhrmann & Ferreri, 2010). This statement is greatly disputed by Phillips et al., (2007) who states that many studies have discarded the last statement through research and trials. So the evidence that high protein diets can be detrimental to the health of an athlete may be invalid and more research should be done to determine what the safest level of protein intake is for an athlete. So far there has not been an upper level limit set for protein by the Food and Nutrition Board, but it is recommended that an athlete limit their protein intake to 35% even though 1.2 – 1.6 g/kg has been shown to be beneficial for all athletes  (Phillips et al., 2007).

A supplement is just that, a supplement. Supplementations should only be used if the athlete is not getting adequate nutrition from their diet. I highly recommend reading the following article to understand the absorption rates of protein in the diet. This is especially important when determining what type of protein supplement might work best for an athlete.

Bilsborough, S. & Mann, N. (2006). A review of issues of dietary protein intake in humans. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 16, 129-152.


Fuhrman, J., & Ferreri, D. M. (2010). Fueling the vegetarian (vegan) athlete. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 9(4), 233-241.

Garthe, I., Raastad, T., Refsnes, P. E., Koivisto, A., & Sundgot-Borgen, J. (2011). Effect of two different weight-loss rates on body composition and strength and power-related performance in elite athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 27(2), 97-104.

Lanquale, K. (2009). Nutritional needs of the recreational athlete. Athletic Therapy Today, 14(1), 12-15.

Phillips, S. M., Moore, D. R. & Tang, J. E. (2007). A critical examination of dietary protein requirements, benefits, and excesses in athletes. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 17, S58-S76.

Venderly, A. M., & Campbell, W. W. (2006), Vegetarian diets nutritional considerations for athletes. Sports Medicine, 36(4), 293-305.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Building a Youth Camp Profit Center for a Health Club

Youth Camp Profit Centers:
A Sample Proposal 

Many people in the fitness industry are looking at ways to increase revenue, keep members with families happy, retain current members and reduce childhood obesity. Adding a profit center that targets the child population of your area can be a very profitable adventure for the fitness center involved. It can also be a way to maintain fitness center retention rates and to keep those with children happy. When designing a Youth Sports Camp profit center it is good to know your area and what other clubs in your area are doing. However, don't be afraid to look at clubs of similar sizes outside of your area.* This is just a sample of what a proposal might look like. If you do design a proposal of your own you might want to include charts or graphs. Detailed data from clubs in your surrounding area. I would limit that area to 25 miles, however, it doesn't hurt to add in clubs from other areas. Keep in mind clubs within a 25 mile radius will most likely represent your targeted audience.

*The area that I looked at for this blog is Denver, CO (my hometown) and though I currently run a fitness center out in the country, I have opted to compare an imaginary club (All Out Fitness Inc.) to those that would be rather larger than what I run on the southeastern plains of Colorado.

Look at your targeted audience?
Research other clubs in the area or similar sized clubs with similar programs.
Don't be afraid to look at profit margins and other financial information.

All Out Fitness Inc: Denver, CO branch.

Denver, CO is known for having active citizens and being a sports town that is truly amazing to live in. Denver has professional sports in nearly every market ranging from football to lacrosse. Because of this there are youth sports ranging from football to lacrosse. According to a survey done in 2004 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 60% of all Colorado children ages 5-14 participated in sports; whereas, 26.9% participated in less than 5 hours of physical activity each week (Shupe & Gannon, 2005). These are both markets that we at All Out Fitness can tap into for our proposed profit center of Youth Sports Camps in Denver, CO. Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Greenwood, CO has several youth camps. These camps include biking, running, swimming, tennis and basketball. All of their camps are onsite in a facility that is approximately the same size as our facility. They currently charge $150 per month or $400 per quarter to participate in multiple sports or $50 p/month to participate in one sport (McDonnell, 2008). Their programs have been very successful. Charging more for non-members could encourage families to become members of our facility, therefore, increasing our member numbers. Club Equinox in New York, NY charges non-members $25 to $50 dollars more for their six week youth programs, and at a member price of $175 the cost of being a non-member can add up quickly (McDonnell, 2008).   

Justify your program, or why do you feel there is a need. Trust me, your administration will want to know.
What are some facts on youth fitness programs?
What problems might your facility run into with a youth program?

What strategies might you come up with to keep adults and children separate?
The reason for selecting Youth Sports Camps as our profit center is based off of our family member’s needs. It has been brought to our attention through surveying our members that those with families would like to bring their children with them while they work out at our facility. Also, our single members have noted that they feel that childhood obesity is an issue and they feel that adding Youth Sports to our facility could help in lowering the staggering numbers. As sports and PE programs leave public schools many fitness centers are beginning to provide physical education and programs for children of all ages and are finding it very profitable (Gormley, 2005). Because of this children under the age of 18 are growing in the US as members at fitness facilities. The last number noted was that nearly 4.6 million kids are active in their family’s gyms or health centers (Kruse, 2011). Also, Larry C. Conner of Stone Creek Club and Spa in Covington, LA brings in over $140,000 in revenue, which is nearly a 20% profit margin (McDonnell, 2008). In Canada, this is a fast growing profit center for many clubs. At La Sporteque de Hull in Quebec they see a 50% of their net return as being derived from children and youth programming (Gormley, 2005). With Denver, CO being a sports center it only makes sense that we build a facility that is open to targeting the family population in Denver while still accommodating the needs of our single members. We could do this by selecting youth camp times that utilize the club during the hours when our single members tend to attend less (like just after school or late afternoon), create separate locker rooms for our kids, or adult only training areas (Gormley, 2005). Of course we would have to look at our space availability first to make sure that we can accommodate separate kid and adult areas.

What programs do you think would work best in your facility?
Justify the reason for the sports that you have chosen. This could be because the areas are developed or because you already have similar adult programs.
What are some additional training needs that should be addressed?

The development of our program should start with onsite programs. We currently have spinning rooms, a basketball court (can be transformed to accommodate two volleyball courts), tennis & racquetball courts, and a lap pool with 5 laps. All of these areas are separate from the general training areas, so this will keep the noise from child’s play to a minimum as to not disturb the members that are training on cardiovascular or resistance training equipment. The development of the Youth Sports Camps should utilize these areas first. If the camps become popular it might me important to look at areas outside of the club. These areas could be youth adventure camps, soccer camps, baseball camps, and softball camps. The biggest reason parents place their children in a sports camp is because they want their children to learn new skills and to develop the ones that they already have (Gormley, 2005).  All of our camps should finish with a game or match. This could be a game against another club’s youth camp or a game or match against our own youth camp attendees. Having a final event associated with each youth camp will help keep our kids motivated and committed to finishing the camp (McDonnell, 2008). Also, learning a new skill is important, but our kids should also receive some formal resistance training, speed workouts and nutritional training in addition to focusing in on learning new skills associated with their sport (McDonnell, 2008).

How will you staff the program? 
Will you hire from the inside or the outside of your current staff?
Will you need specific certifications? 

Staffing these camps would be the biggest challenge. First, I would recommend looking within our current All Out Fitness branch. We currently staff personal trainers, group fitness instructors and other associates that maintain several other certifications. This should be our first group that we look at for staffing these camps. We have many part time staff that would benefit greatly from taking on extra duties. After we look at our staff we should then look at outside sources. These could be local coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, performance enhancement specialists, speed and explosion specialists, athletic trainers and other certified fitness experts.

What are some equipment or additional costs that you might run into?

Sports specific equipment will be necessary for these camps such as balls, racquets and other various equipment as needed. We will encourage those participating in racquet sports to supply their own racquets. We currently have two sets of volleyball nets and our in-facility sports areas are fully equipped. So the cost of these camps should be minimal. Jerseys and/or uniforms for our kids could be included in the price of their enrollment. We would first have to see which programs would have the highest amount of interest from our members prior to developing our purchasing additional equipment.


Gormley, B. (2005). Everyone profits from kids’ programming, Fitness Business Canada, 6(2), 58-61.

Kruse, S. Building revenue through kids’ camps. , 06/22/2011

McDonnell, A. B. (2008). Profiting from sports training. Fitness Management, 24(12), 30-33.
Shupe, A., & Gannon, J. (2005) How healthy are colorado children? Key findings from the 2004 colorado child health survey. Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Health Watch, Sept. 2005, 59. 
 All photos come from