Why Protein for Runners?
Runners need protein to stay healthy, grow stronger, and recover faster. Protein improves your body’s response to training, and helps prevent injury. Runners who do not consume the right amount of protein are risking injury and hurting their running performance.
How Much Protein Do Runners Need?
As an endurance athlete, your daily protein requirements are higher than average. You’re going to need more than the USDA‘s average recommended daily allowance of .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The ISSN recommends that endurance athletes consume twice that amount (.45 to .72 grams of protein per pound) each day.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein for Runners?
Athletes should look for foods containing a balanced profile of amino acids, the highest concentrations of protein, essential nutrients, and healthy fat profiles. Lean proteins like salmon, skinless chicken breasts, and turkey breast are great sources of protein. Low-fat yogurt, almonds, beans, and eggs are also healthy sources of protein.
It’s tempting to grill up a nice steak and enjoy a beer in the evening after a run, but you’re not doing your body any favors. Steak is a great source of protein, but it often comes at the price of high fat content. Not bad once in a while, but not a good plan for the long-term. Beer contains alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol has been proven to impair the digestion of proteins, which means your muscles never get the fuel they need.
When Should I Eat Protein for Maximum Results?
Most sports dietitians and nutritionists recommend ingesting 20-30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of finishing a run. This window of time is when your muscles are best able to use the protein to aid in recovery and to repair muscle fibers. Many athletes choose protein shakes or supplements that they can prepare quickly after a workout.
Whey protein powders like those made by EAS are a great way to supplement your diet. For the last month, I have used EAS 100% Whey Protein Vanilla powder as a post-workout protein source. After workouts, I blend together 1 banana, a 1/2 cup of almond milk, a 1/4 cup of water, and 2 scoops of protein powder for a delicious shake to help promote muscle growth and recovery.
Adding protein supplements or altering your diet should be done in a thoughtful manner. Many Americans already have high protein levels in their diets, so you may already be getting what you need. The best course of action is to analyze your weekly dietary plan and see if you are getting enough protein to perform at your best.