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The Runners Diet: Protein For Runners

 

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On the blog we have extensively covered the need for carbohydrate in a runners diet. In this post, we’ll shift our conversation to protein for runners. In this short post we’ll keep it simple by describing what every runner should know about protein.

Why runners need protein?

Protein is one of the six essential nutrients shutterstock_131316140(carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, water) necessary for good health. Dietary proteins are made up of 20 amino acids, which includes 9 the body cannot make, called essential amino acids (EAA). Amino acids are considered the building blocks of life because of their numerous roles including building and repairing body tissues as well as maintaining muscle, health, and overall well-being.

 

What foods contain protein?

The protein food group includes animal protein as well as plant-based protein sources. Animal sources of protein are eggs, meat, poultry, dairy products (cheese, yogurt, milk), seafood, and whey. Plant-based sources of protein are beans, whole grains, peas, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and soy. Animal and plant protein sources both contain EAAs but animal sources of protein are considered ‘high quality’ because they contain all of the EAAs. Some plant-based proteins like soy, quinoa, and buckwheat contain all EAAs while most lack at least 1 or more EAAs.

 

How much protein should runners eat daily?

Protein for runners varies each day based on age, gender, activity level, and lifestyle factors. The acceptable range for protein is 10-35% of total daily calories. Most runners should consume 0.5-0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This should be enough to repair muscle that’s been broken down from hard workouts while also providing the needed protein for other cellular functions.

Protein timing: does it really matter?

Protein will be best able to build, repair, and maintain body muscle when it’s evenly distributed in meals throughout the day. While the total amount of protein per meal will vary based on age, the recommended amounts are between 20 and 30 g per meal. For instance, if you determine your needs to be 100 g of protein per day that would mean 30 g for breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus maybe 10 g of protein in a snack.

What does high quality protein look like?

These are some examples of what high-quality sources of protein. It’s important to note that 1 oz of meat = ~7 grams of protein and  1 cup of milk or 1 egg = ~ 8 grams of protein!

protein for runners

 

Protein for Runners: A Summary

A runner diet should consist of moderate amounts of protein distributed equally throughout the day. Protein for runners will depend on variables like body weight and training volume. In general, consume 10-35% of your total calories from protein. Animal sources are higher quality than plant-based sources. Making smart food choices, is especially important for vegans and vegetarians in order to meet daily protein needs.

Now its your turn. Leave a comment and tell me how much protein you are consuming daily?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Learn the exact steps I used to become a 9x Ironman finisher, ultramarathoner, and Boston Qualifier. Take the guesswork out of race-day nutrition.

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