More Power To You
Timing is all when it comes to how protein affects your performance and recovery
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.’