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The Mediterranean Athlete’s Nutrition: Are Protein Supplements Necessary?

Independent Researcher, Miami, FL 33101, USA
Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, 40126 Bologna, BO, Italy
Studio Medico, 40024 Castel San Pietro Terme, BO, Italy
Independent Researcher, 47122 Forlì, FC, Italy
Poliambulatorio Obiettivo Benessere, 47030 San Mauro Pascoli, FC, Italy
Department for Life Quality Studies, University of Bologna, 47921 Rimini, RN, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2020, 12(12), 3681;
Received: 30 October 2020 / Revised: 22 November 2020 / Accepted: 26 November 2020 / Published: 29 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport Nutrition for Athletes)
(1) Background: It is recommended that an athlete, in order to ensure correct nutrition and performance, should consume between 1.2 and 2.0 g/kg/day of protein, while the daily recommended protein intake for a non-athlete is 0.8and 0.9 mg/kg/day. It is unclear if athletes living in Mediterranean countries are able to meet protein requirements without supplementation, since Mediterranean diet de-emphasizes meat and meat products. (2) Methods: 166 athletes (125 males) enrolled between 2017 and 2019 were required to keep a dietary journal for three consecutive days (2 workdays and 1 weekend day). Athletes had to be >18 years old, train in a particular sport activity more than 3 h a week and compete at least at an amateur level. Journal data were collected and then translated into macro-nutrient content (grams of protein, carbohydrates, and lipids) by a nutritionist. (3) Results: The protein intake reported by this specific population vary slightly from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Dietitians of Canada (DC), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) joint statement recommendation level. Average protein levels without protein supplementation fell within the protein guidelines. Counterintuitively, the intake among those who supplemented their diet with protein was higher compared with those who did not, even when excluding the contribution of supplements. Although the majority of subjects participating in the study were able to meet protein intake recommended for athletes without protein supplementation, 27% of athletes were below the guideline range. (4) Conclusions: these data suggest that athletes’ nutrition should be more often evaluated by a nutritionist and that they will benefit from increasing their nutritional knowledge in order to make better food choices, resorting to protein supplementation only when effectively needed. View Full-Text
Keywords: endurance; lifting; diet; macronutrients; protein; supplements endurance; lifting; diet; macronutrients; protein; supplements
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MDPI and ACS Style

Passariello, C.L.; Marchionni, S.; Carcuro, M.; Casali, G.; della Pasqua, A.; Hrelia, S.; Malaguti, M.; Lorenzini, A. The Mediterranean Athlete’s Nutrition: Are Protein Supplements Necessary? Nutrients 2020, 12, 3681.

AMA Style

Passariello CL, Marchionni S, Carcuro M, Casali G, della Pasqua A, Hrelia S, Malaguti M, Lorenzini A. The Mediterranean Athlete’s Nutrition: Are Protein Supplements Necessary? Nutrients. 2020; 12(12):3681.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Passariello, Catherine L., Silvia Marchionni, Mariateresa Carcuro, Giorgia Casali, Alberto della Pasqua, Silvana Hrelia, Marco Malaguti, and Antonello Lorenzini. 2020. "The Mediterranean Athlete’s Nutrition: Are Protein Supplements Necessary?" Nutrients 12, no. 12: 3681.

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