Rowing is a challenging sport that can leave you exhausted if you don't get proper nutrition. Protein plays an indispensable role in building the muscle you'll need to become a strong, confident rower. Your protein needs will vary slightly depending upon your body weight, the intensity of your daily rowing workout, and how much muscle you want to build. You might need to make minor tweaks in your diet as you figure out what works for you.
Minimum Protein Requirements
If you're just an occasional or recreational rower, you might not need higher quantities of protein in your diet. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adult women get about 46 grams of protein per day. This is equivalent to about two servings of meat or six cups of milk daily. Stick to this recommendation if you only row occasionally and are not trying to build muscle.
Body Weight Recommendations
Muscle weighs more than fat, which means you'll need more calories and more protein to maintain your muscle mass if you're bulking up for rowing. A 2008 study published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" offered protein recommendations based on weight rather than age or sex. According to the study, people generally need about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. If you weigh 145 pounds, for example, you'd need about 52 grams of protein per day.
Protein and Calories
The CDC reports that most people get more protein than they need each day. Protein increases your caloric intake, because protein-rich foods also tend to be high in calories. But if you're rowing every day, you might need these extra calories to maintain your current weight and muscle mass. The University of California at San Diego's Student Health Services recommends that female rowers get 20.5 to 21.5 calories per pound of weight each day.
You don't have to gorge on protein shakes or large quantities of meat to get enough protein. Dairy products such as eggs, milk and cheese are relatively high in protein. Animal-based foods such as meat and dairy products are complete proteins, which means they contain all of the amino acids you need. Soy-based proteins such as tofu also provide complete protein. Incomplete proteins include corn, rice and beans, and you may have to combine these foods to get adequate protein.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- The Journal of the American Medical Association: The Recommended Dietary Allowance of Protein: A Misunderstood Concept
- University of California at San Diego Student Health Services: Fueling Rowers
- Brown University Health Education: Sports Nutrition
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.