Protein Needs For Runners

Endurance runners are advised to target a daily protein intake of 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight, emphasizing the importance of choosing high-quality protein sources like ALOHA to meet their needs. Timing of protein consumption plays a critical role in optimizing muscle recovery, particularly the recommendation to ingest protein within 30-45 minutes after exercising. 

For sustained muscle repair and growth, it's beneficial to distribute protein intake evenly across meals throughout the day, ensuring a balanced approach that supports the body's ongoing requirements for recovery and strengthening after endurance activities.

Best Protein For Runners

Best Protein For Runners

The Impact Of Protein Timing On Running Recovery

The significance of protein intake, particularly surrounding your running routine, cannot be overstated. Consuming protein within a window of 30 minutes to two hours after your run plays a crucial role in hastening muscle repair, which in turn boosts your performance in subsequent runs. Moreover, combining protein with carbohydrates in your post-run meal can expedite the replenishment of glycogen stores. 

This combination not only facilitates a quicker recovery but also enhances your energy levels for your next run, allowing you to maintain a high level of performance. On the flip side, incorporating protein before setting out for a run can offer a sustained energy source, safeguard muscle health, and mitigate the extent of muscle damage incurred during the exercise. 

For practical and easy protein options, consider snacks like yogurt or smoothies enriched with protein powder. These choices are not only convenient but also effectively support your body's recovery and performance, whether consumed before or after your runs.

Why Protein Matters For Running Performance

Protein plays a pivotal role in the overall performance and recovery of runners. This macronutrient is essential for several reasons that directly impact a runner's ability to train effectively and improve over time.

Aids Muscle Repair And Recovery

Running, especially long-distance running or high-intensity intervals, puts significant stress on the muscles, causing microtears. Protein is crucial for repairing these microtears. 

Supports Muscle Strength And Growth

Protein consumption contributes to muscle hypertrophy — an increase in muscle mass. For runners, this doesn't necessarily mean bulking up but rather developing lean muscle that's more efficient at using energy, stabilizing the body, and propelling it forward with each stride. 

Enhances Energy Utilization

While carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for runners, during prolonged activities, the body starts to utilize other sources, including protein. Having a sufficient protein intake ensures that the body can efficiently use this macronutrient as a secondary energy source without resorting to breaking down muscle tissue for energy, which can be detrimental to performance and recovery.

Customizing Your Protein Intake For Different Training Phases

Base-Building Phase

In this phase, focus on gradually increasing mileage and endurance. Aim for about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Include high-quality protein sources such as ALOHA in your meals to support muscle repair and recovery.

Intensive Training Phase

As your training intensity rises, increase your protein intake to about 1.4 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight. Prioritize post-workout meals/snacks rich in protein to aid muscle recovery and growth.

Tapering Phase

Maintain a high protein intake (around 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight) during tapering. This supports muscle repair and strength leading up to a race. Focus on easily digestible protein sources.

Off-Season

Even during rest, keep your protein intake at about 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight to sustain muscle health. Use this time to try different protein sources.

Why do runners need protein?

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Runners need protein primarily for repair and recovery of muscle tissue. During a run, muscle fibers undergo stress and can suffer microtears. Protein provides the necessary building blocks (amino acids) to repair these microtears, which, in turn, leads to stronger muscles.

How much protein do runners need daily?

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The amount of protein needed by a runner can vary based on their weight, the intensity of their training, and their overall diet. However, a general guideline is approximately 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for those engaged in regular endurance running.

Can plant-based proteins suffice for runners?

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Yes, plant-based proteins can absolutely suffice for runners. Many plant-based sources of protein provide ample protein. It’s important for those following a plant-based diet to consume a variety of protein sources to ensure they’re getting all essential amino acids.

What's the importance of protein timing for runners?

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Protein timing can play a role in optimizing muscle repair and growth. Consuming protein shortly after a run can help kickstart the recovery process, with studies suggesting a window of within 30 minutes to two hours post-exercise being ideal for protein intake.

Should runners consume protein before or after runs?

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While the post-run window is crucial for protein intake to aid in recovery, consuming protein before runs can also be beneficial, especially for longer distances. A modest amount of protein before running can help prevent muscle breakdown during the run. 

Sources:

  • Cintineo, H. P., Arent, M. A., Antonio, J., & Arent, S. M. (2018). Effects of Protein Supplementation on Performance and Recovery in Resistance and Endurance Training. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5(83). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2018.00083
  • ‌Hoffman, J. R., & Falvo, M. J. (2004). Protein - Which is Best? Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 3(3), 118–130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/
  • ‌Roberson, P. A., Romero, M. A., Mumford, P. W., Osburn, S. C., Haun, C. T., Vann, C. G., Kluess, H. A., & Roberts, M. D. (2018). Protein Supplementation Throughout 10 Weeks of Progressive Run Training Is Not Beneficial for Time Trial Improvement. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2018.00097

ALOHA's products are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure disease. ALOHA's products should not replace prescribed medications or the variety of foods important to a healthful diet.

Do not self-diagnose any health condition. Work with your healthcare provider to determine how best to achieve optimal health.

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