More Power To You

Tim­ing is all when it comes to how pro­tein af­fects your per­for­mance and re­cov­ery

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

Time your pro­tein in­take to en­sure you re­cover prop­erly

Each time Olympic marathoner Sha­lane Flana­gan sits down for post-run bison meat­balls, she’s do­ing her body a big favour. Pro­tein, made up of amino acids, is so im­por­tant to mus­cle re­pair, re­cov­ery and build­ing that run­ners should have a greater por­tion of the nu­tri­ent af­ter their work­outs than at any other time of day, ac­cord­ing to new re­search from the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the Acad­emy of Nu­tri­tion and

Keep­ing your pro­tein stores high builds strength and helps pre­vent in­jury, es­pe­cially af­ter you run.

Di­etet­ics, and the Di­eti­tians of Canada. And in­stead of look­ing at gen­eral in­take guide­lines, run­ners should plan their pro­tein con­sump­tion around work­outs – and ad­just in­take on days when they aren’t ex­er­cis­ing. This, re­searchers say, will help your mus­cles be­come stronger and more adapt­able to train­ing.

‘Pro­tein helps you re­build dam­aged mus­cles to pre­vent in­jury and make you stronger,’ says Tara Colling­wood, sports di­eti­tian and of­fi­cial nutritionist for Rundis­ney. ‘Stronger equals more speed and more en­durance.’

Ac­cord­ing to this re­search, which fo­cused on how much pro­tein ath­letes need and when they need it, you should con­sume 0.54-0.91g per pound of body weight daily. So a woman weigh­ing 10st 10lbs (150lbs), for ex­am­ple, needs 81-137g. Th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions are well above the Rec­om­mended Di­etary Al­lowances. ‘There is good ev­i­dence that this in­creased pro­tein helps ath­letes max­imise meta­bolic adap­ta­tion to train­ing,’ says Alissa Rum­sey, a spokesper­son for the Acad­emy.

The pa­per looked at a range of ath­letes and their pro­tein re­quire­ments. Run­ners who log a few miles a day fall on the lower end of the spec­trum (0.54-0.68g per pound of body weight). Those clock­ing longer, harder mileage (at least 25-30 miles weekly) should aim for 0.68-0.82g per pound, while those se­ri­ous about lift­ing weights need the most pro­tein, at 0.91g per pound.

Of course, as a run­ner, you still need a side of car­bo­hy­drates with your pro­tein. On easy run days, aim for 2.3-3.2g of carbs per pound; for higher-in­ten­sity work­outs, like in­ter­vals or a long run, have 2.7-4.5g per pound. ‘If you don’t re­fuel with carbs, the body will break down pro­tein to re­plen­ish de­pleted glyco­gen stores,’ says Colling­wood. ‘ You may not have enough pro­tein left for mus­cle re­cov­ery.’

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