Whether you’re a body builder, an athlete, a long distance runner or someone trying to get in shape, running is a great way to keep your heart pumping.
Most runners focus on consuming some form of carbs before a run, but consuming sufficient amounts of protein after a run is equally important.
Depending on one’s goals – like muscle gain, weight loss, or completing a long distance run, protein can serve as critical energy sources.
Why you need protein?
When you run, you break down muscle. Proteins help you build that muscle back in order for you to keep running.
Protein is not a fuel source, but instead a muscle builder, re-builder, re-shaper and re-conditioner for runners.
The macronutrient, protein is just as crucial for muscle recovery after a workout. It significantly helps in muscle damage, and diminishes the effects of the “stress” hormone, cortisol that is responsible for breaking down of muscles.
Protein when taken with carbohydrates can help replenish your glycogen stores, your all-encompassing energy source that keeps you running for longer hours during marathons.
So, if you’ve ever hit a wall while competing in a marathon, you should know what your body has been asking for.
Apply the 30/30 Rule
Most Nutritionist and dieticians in the wellness community recommend getting 10-20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of finishing a run or sooner – because that’s when the muscles are most receptive to get the full benefit of protein.
The amount of protein you eat is important here – 10 grams is considered baseline and 20 grams is optimal. Consuming more amounts of protein than this does not necessarily help the body in any way. It has been observed through multiple studies that consuming more than 30 grams of protein at once in a single sitting didn’t help muscles grow any further than moderate amounts.
In short, sticking to the 30/30 rule is advisable: make sure to eat less than 30 grams of protein in less than 30 minutes post-run.
Source of Protein
After all this you might be wondering which source of protein is best for runners.
If we start with the most common source of protein, the one that tops the charts is fish, poultry and meat. But animal and dairy based sources of protein have their fair of health issues that can be a major concern for many out there.
Like for example, dairy is known to cause indigestion and bloating since most of the population is lactose intolerant. And processed meat can lead to hormonal misbalance in people and can also contain high amounts of unsaturated fats.
The next option can be to get the amount of protein from plant-based whole foods. One cup of lentils is good enough give you 18 grams of protein, similar to 3 ounce serving of salmon that can give you 17 grams of protein.
If you don’t have time or inclination to cook up a meal, there is a third option to opt for, which involves fueling up on protein shakes or smoothies.
You can easily gulp down 1 scoop of protein powder mixed with water or milk as meal replacement after your run.
One advantage of protein powders is that they are very convenient to carry with you. Lugging around a bulky, high protein meal is difficult as it would require you to carry multiple containers and bags.
Not to mention the worry of whether they’ll stay fresh for so long at room temperature and whether they’ll spill over.
A protein shake removes all these concerns as it is so easily portable and in a single flask. The flask would help maintain the temperature, and when you need to use it, simply give it a good shake to mix it up well again and its ready to drink.
It’s also far more convenient as a drink is far easier to consume without needing other cutlery or on the go.
Carbs and protein both are required to replenish your glycogen stores. Make sure to keep yourself hydrated and keep your carbs stores high as well.
The ideal ratio of carbs to protein is still under study but most sports nutritionists would recommend aiming for a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of a post-run meal. This is after an hour or more of a run.
Here’s a simple and handy formula to figure out the number of carbs that one should be eating during mealtime: divide your weight in half. That’s the magic carb number you’ve been looking for.
Now the same number when divided by three or four can be used to determine the amount of protein intake in one’s diet.
Requirements of a 135- pound runner would be:
67 grams of carbs, 22 grams of protein in 3:1 ratio
67 grams of carbs, 17 grams of protein in a 4:1 ratio
And if you’re still not sure, just follow the 30/30 rule: eat less than 30 grams of protein in less than 30 minutes post-run.
Which Protein Powder is best for Runners?
There are many different protein powders available in the market and it can get a bit confusing at time as to which one give what benefit and which is most suited for you.
Whey protein is the most common and widely used type of protein powder. Whey is a dairy based protein which comes about as a byproduct of cheese manufacturing. It is absorbed very quickly by our bodies and kick-starts tissue-protein synthesis rapidly and as such can be had 30mins before your run as well.
However, if you are lactose intolerant, then going for a plant based whole food blend is the best option for you.
Plix plant protein contains both brown rice and pea proteins, which are great from a nutrition perspective. Rice and pea protein respectively contain 15-22 grams of protein per 100-calorie serving.
While pea protein contains a full amino acid profile, rice protein does not. However, when paired together they create a full amino acid profile – so essentially what rice protein lacks in amino acids, pea protein makes up when paired together.
Try Plix Plant Protein Now.