Should Runners Eat More Protein?

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Whether we exercise or not, all humans need protein to ensure healthy muscle repair, and growth. Consuming complete protein, that contains all 9 of the essential amino acids, is fundamental to our cells, organs and tissues functioning normally.

So do runners need to consume more protein than non-runners? This depends on the level and frequency of your training.

To run for long distances and lengths of time we need to strengthen our muscles and grow lean muscle mass. Growth happens when the rate of muscle protein being converted is greater than the rate of muscle protein being broken down. This means the more exercise we do, the more protein we’re going to need to build up our muscles increase our endurance, and reduce our changes of inflammation and injury.

So how much protein do you need as a runner?

The average sedentary adult needs on average 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. As your physical workload increases, so does your body’s calorie intake – in the form of carbs, fats and proteins.

Increasing your protein intake increases the body’s ability to repair any damage to the tendons, and increase your muscle strength and therefore longevity after every training session.

Your protein requirements increase with your workload. Here are some examples of the amount of protein you will need depending on the type of runner you are.

Type: Recreational Runner

Workload: Running 2/3 times a week maximum 30 minutes

Protein requirement: 0.8-1g of protein per kg of weight. You can get most of this from a balanced diet, but can also supplement with protein drinks such as BCAA INTRA HARDCORE  on training days

Type: Frequent/race runner.

Workload: Training for a 10k or half marathon

Protein requirement: Begin with around 1.8g of protein per kg, and see how quick recovery is. If you find recovery is slow, then increase your protein intake. As frequency and distance of training increases you should be aiming for 2.2g per kg on hard training days and race day. High protein content drinks such as RECOVER 2:1 ISOLATE to support recovery for long distance runners.

Type: Ultra runner

Workload: Training for marathon or other long distance endurance running.

Protein requirements: For those running 20 miles plus per week the minimum protein requirement will be at least 2.2g per kg. This may need to increase up to 2.5g per kg depending on the distance you are running. For an average woman and man this would be between 157g- 170g of protein per day respectively as well as ensuring you have enough carbohydrates to balance a healthy intake.

Timing

When you consume your protein is also important for increasing performance and building strength.

Breakfast – Front loading your day with protein is a good idea, especially on training or race days. Your breakfast should be 25% protein and 60% carbs. On average this would mean 31g of protein in a 500 calorie breakfast. Load up on eggs, or pancakes along with our special three ingredient protein latte.

Immediately After Running- It is vital on training and race days that you hit the 30 minute post-workout recovery window for protein intake. Ideally the meal, snack or shake needs to be at least 25-30g of protein, proportionate to your weight and workload. Try one of our PRO 2GO Duo bar, along with your protein drink of choice to start recovery on your tired muscles.

Before Bed – Overnight is when muscles do most of their repair work, so making sure that they have enough protein is vital. An average 120 pound runner should consume at least 20-25 grams of protein to optimize muscle recovery and repair whilst they sleep. A dinner with plenty of lean meat such as chicken or fish, egg, or legumes such as chickpeas should do the trick!

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