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Choosing the proteins necessary for the daily requirement is very important for the endurance athlete. The right choice improves recovery, increases performance and prevents injuries.

Depending on the length and intensity of training, the recommended daily amount of proteins is between 1.2 and 1.4g x kg of body mass. A 70kg athlete, for example, will need about 84-98g of proteins per day. Specifically, a 100g portion of meat or fish contains 25-30g of proteins while plant-based foods contain between 15 and 20g, an athlete in defining the nutrition plan will have to carefully evaluate the exact quantities to be consumed.

Here is a mini-guide to guide you in choosing between the main animal proteins.

  • Pork. Very often pork meat is associated with fatty products such as becon, mortadella, sausages. But a fat-free pork steak can be better than lamb or beef. Pork is rich in B vitamins and contains mineral salts. A 100g serving contains 65% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Thiamine (known as vitamin B1), essential for transforming carbohydrates into energy.

100g of defatted pork provides: 143K; 3,9g lipids, 24g proteins

  • Chicken. It is the least caloric and least fatty meat of all but it must be considered that it contains a lower percentage of minerals than red meat and, therefore, it would be good to alternate it during the week. Chicken contains abundant selenium, which is important for the functioning of the thyroid, hormones and immune system, and a high content of vitamin B6. When cooking chicken, it is a good idea to remove the skin which triples the amount of fat in the meat.

100g of chicken meat, skin removed, provides: 113K; 1.9g lipids, 20g protein

Beef. A medium-sized beef steak exceeds the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of proteins and guarantees a long-lasting feeling of satiety with a moderate calorie intake. A 100g of beef provides an amount of zinc equivalent to 10 rations of tuna fish and more than half the iron found in raw spinach. But it is also true that for many athletes it is less digestible than other meats and that it contains more cholesterol than most meats, so moderate use is recommended.

100g of defatted beef provides: 174K; 4.8g lipids, 31g protein

  • Lamb. It contains more Omega 3 fatty acids than other red meats, especially if the lambs are raised outdoors and fed with grass in pastures. Lamb meat is fatty but also rich in iron, zinc, vitamins, in particular the B12 vitamins essential for endurance.

100g of defatted lamb meat provides: 168K; 7,3gr lipids, 25gr proteins

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Cristina Tasselli

Digital Strategic Marketing Director - certified Innovation Manager - in multinational companies, she is still today the only Italian female athlete to have ran 900 km and 55,000m D+ in the mountains in a single stage race (Transpyrenea 2016, 3rd women overall). She counts numerous Podiums and international Victories on races over 100k. She holds a SNaQ CONI certification as a Trail Running Coach, Athletic Trainer and in Nutrition and Sports Supplementation. Since 2014 she is President and sports executive of innovative technology startups and companies, including Trail Running Movement and Digital Sport 360. She trains elite trail running athletes and she teaches in trail running coach certification courses. She is an author of sports articles on training, nutrition and supplementation in trail running and running, both in Italian and in English and Spanish. She manages relationships and collaborations with Federations and Race Organizers.