PRO­TEIN FOR RE­COV­ERY

Runner's World (UK) - - Protein Fuel For Running -

HOW IM­POR­TANT IS PRO­TEIN FOR RUN­NERS?

It’s es­sen­tial. Re­cov­er­ing ef­fec­tively be­tween runs and af­ter races is as im­por­tant as the ex­er­cise it­self, some­thing run­ners of­ten for­get. Rest and re­cov­ery en­sure your body gets the max­i­mum re­wards for your hard work – and pro­tein is the key macronu­tri­ent in this process. ‘ Ev­ery type of run­ning causes mi­crotears in your mus­cles,’ says Eas­ton. ‘ The higher the in­ten­sity, the more dam­age is likely.’ Pro­tein helps re­pair your mus­cles, knit­ting together dam­aged fi­bres to make them stronger. It also plays a key role in build­ing mi­to­chon­dria, which act like fur­naces in­side mus­cle cells. The harder you train, the more mi­to­chon­dria you need in or­der to burn fuel ef­fi­ciently. What’s more, high pro­tein in­take has been shown to help main­tain a strong im­mune sys­tem.

WHAT’S A GOOD POST­WORK­OUT PRO­TEIN PLAN?

The 30 min­utes af­ter ex­er­cise are cru­cial for ac­cel­er­at­ing re­cov­ery – dur­ing this ‘golden win­dow’ your body is more re­cep­tive to nu­tri­ents to be­gin the re­build­ing process. A 3:1 ratio of carbs to pro­tein is op­ti­mum for post-work­out re­cov­ery, as the pro­tein in­creases your body’s abil­ity to store and use the carbs. Re­search pub­lished in The Jour­nal of Strength and Con­di­tion­ing Re­search found this blend pro­moted re­cov­ery and per­for­mance in sub­se­quent ses­sions. Post-work­out pro­tein comes in a va­ri­ety of shapes and sizes, in­clud­ing shakes, pow­ders, wa­ter, gels and good old choco­late milk.

IN GEN­ERAL, HOW MUCH PRO­TEIN DO I NEED?

Run­ners need a lot more pro­tein than seden­tary peo­ple do. The In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety of Sports Nutri­tion says en­durance athletes such as run­ners need 1.0 to 1.6 grams per kilo­gram a day (or 0.45 to 0.72 grams per pound). That trans­lates to 64-102 grams of pro­tein daily for a 10-stone run­ner.

AT WHAT OTHER TIMES SHOULD I EAT PRO­TEIN?

Re­search shows spread­ing your in­take through­out the day is the best way to match your body’s needs. Af­ter the golden win­dow has slammed shut, hav­ing a healthy main meal con­tain­ing at least 20g of pro­tein, along with carbs, within the few hours that fol­low your run will con­tinue the vi­tal re­build­ing process. Start­ing your day with pro­tein will en­sure you’re prop­erly fu­elling your train­ing. The goal is to keep pace with your en­ergy de­mands and never let­ting your body go into deficit. And eat­ing a pro­tein-rich snack be­fore hit­ting the pil­low will do your train­ing a favour – sleep is a big re­cov­ery pe­riod, dur­ing which more nu­tri­ents are de­liv­ered to your hun­gry mus­cles. Opt for a dairy source: skimmed milk mixed with some pro­tein pow­der is the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of dairy and pro­tein to aid restora­tion. And even on rest days, pro­tein con­sump­tion is im­por­tant to sup­port re­cov­ery and re­pair.

WHAT ARE THE BEST FOOD SOURCES OF PRO­TEIN?

Run­ners need qual­ity pro­tein that con­tains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAS), which are key in sup­port­ing mus­cle re­cov­ery. The amino acid leucine, in par­tic­u­lar, helps stim­u­late pro­tein build­ing af­ter ex­er­cise. Eggs, chicken, pork and lean beef are some of the rich­est sources of leucine. You can also get it from fish, soy and whey, a type of pro­tein found in dairy prod­ucts that the body can quickly digest and use to re­build mus­cle af­ter a work­out. Legumes, nuts and whole­grains also sup­ply pro­tein, though, in smaller amounts.

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