Is protein only for people who do weights or hypertrophy? No! But that’s a common mistake. Muscle tissue is damaged in training sessions, through small breaks, and needs to be repaired once it finishes. Take note of what we tell you in this article, especially if you’re a regular runner.
First of all, it’s important to note that protein supplements for runners are not the same as traditional ones for bodybuilders, as the latter have different needs. In any case, these nutritional supplements are intended to make the recovery process faster and more effective and eventually improve endurance-related physical conditions.
Protein for Runners
It’s clear that those who practice resistance exercises such as running need greater sources of slow-burning energy. This is why it is generally recommended that this type of sportsperson consumes greater quantities of carbohydrates. Generally, these should represent between 55 and 65% of the diet.
However, the amount of protein should also be higher than normal. As we explained in our article about recommended Protein Quantities, the WHO says that every person should consume 0.8 grams of protein for every lean kilogram (eliminating the percentage of fat) of weight.
For runners, you should increase it to between 1.5 – 1.8 grams. That’s to say, to represent around 15 to 20% of your daily diet.
Don’t forget Multivitamins
As an athlete, and more so in running, you need to be concerned about key vitamin and mineral levels, so make sure you maintain good levels! Replenishment becomes critical, especially at certain times of the season (competition) or during the summer months, otherwise we run the risk of suffering some kind of mishap due to this deficit.
Don’t forget Antioxidants
Endurance exercise tends to produce a high concentration of free radicals. These molecules, at the atomic level, are «unstable», which means they seek to «steal» an electron from healthy molecules in order to achieve atomic balance. Our body is capable enough to fight these processes, however, when we talk about sportspersons and athletes, who have high demands. this capacity can be compromised. It is therefore advisable to follow a diet with an abundance of foods that offer these antioxidants, and even to add them externally from the most suitable supplements.
Consider taking a multivitamin and antioxidant supplement to strengthen and complete your diet.
The Benefits of Protein for Runners
At this point, we would like to focus briefly on one interesting aspect. Various scientific studies have shown that high protein consumption is closely related to the ‘weight-power’ of the subject in question, which applies to both bodybuilders and endurance athletes, such as runners.
In this sense, these supplements affect the appetite, which affects weight loss and improved endurance-related performance. It’s true that the exact mechanism by which this process occurs is not known, although it is thought to be related to certain chemical and hormonal changes in the regions of the brain that control the feeling of hunger.
Protein supplements for runners are very important, especially when we increase the number of training hours per week
Amino Acids for Runners
As we mentioned, protein supplements for runners are not the same as those recommended for bodybuilders, because their specific needs are not the same. In this sense, those made for runners are usually made up of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids). However, it’s also possible to add these amino acids in isolation to complete the protein supply.
Which amino acids are recommended for runners?
As we have already mentioned, we must remember that after a long training session full of endurance, the muscles can end up quite damaged. It is therefore essential to protect them before starting to run in the next training session.
- In this regard, it should be noted that BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine), due to their energetic properties (they are able to provide energy in the absence of glucose and to save glycogen), can be taken in the moments prior to taking the first strides.
- The same is true for Citrulline Malate, an amino acid that contributes to better circulation and transport of nutrients and oxygen to the muscle fibres.
- For its part, L-Glutamine is more focused on muscle recovery, so its consumption is recommended for after activity, replenishing the drop in levels in blood plasma as a result of exercise.
Protein Supplements for Runners
Generally speaking, we can say that there are four types of protein supplements suitable for runners. Let’s look at them below:
They are made from milk, are perfectly dissolvable in water, and are digested very quickly in the body, providing a high volume of amino acids in a very short time. Because they are considered to be ‘fast absorbing proteins’, they should ideally be taken just after the end of the training session, so that the body has the essential it needs to regenerate the muscle fibres and recover properly. Depending on their composition, there are 3 types: Concentrated, Isolated and Hydrolysed. The last two are usually recommended for problems with lactose intolerance.
The opposite of whey proteins. It’s the fraction of milk that is slowly absorbed. Because casein-based supplements are progressively digested, the amino acids they contain take longer to become available to the body. They are therefore ideal when you are facing a long recovery period. In this sense, the ideal time to take it is before sleeping.
Plant proteins are aimed at (but of course can be taken by any runner) all those runners who follow a vegan diet, i.e. they have completely given up the consumption of any food of animal origin. It is true that this type of supplement, although considered to be rapidly absorbed, is not assimilated as quickly as whey supplements, although it’s also true that in most cases it does not make a significant difference. The most important features are Soya Protein, Pea Protein, or Rice.
Supplements made from this food are considered to be of very high quality. It is the reference for measuring the quality of the proteins contained in other foods of animal and vegetable origin. In addition, they are perfect for vegetarians who, despite not eating meat, follow an ovo-lactic diet. Their speed of absorption is somewhat slower than whey, making them the best alternative for lactose intolerant people. On the other hand, they can be taken in combination with Whey Protein.
How to Take Protein Supplements?
Depending on the protein needs of the runner, more or less daily doses can be taken. However, it is generally recommended to drink a protein shake after physical exercise.
It’s important to remember that the use of anytime protein-based nutritional supplements is advisable for all those runners who, due to their circumstances, cannot include the amount of protein they need in their diet. If this is the case, they’ll help you improve your performance in a very efficient way.
But don’t forget to take care of your diet, because, as you should know, these are NOT doping products, but a simple help for you to reach your physical goals.
In short, protein supplements for runners, if they contain the appropriate amino acids referred to in this article, are ideal for increasing sports performance and promoting faster and more effective recovery of muscle tissue.
- Benefits of multivitamins for athletes
- When to take the carbohydrates: before, during and/or after physical exercise?
- Strength Exercises for Runners