As every runner is aware, protein consists of a number of amino acids and is one of the vital building blocks of life. Present in every cell, it is essential for a number of functions, including cell growth and repair, as well as ensuring the body can maintain its fluid balance. It’s also useful for achieving weight loss in a healthy fashion.
How much protein do you need?
The average adult woman should aim to eat approximately 46 grams of protein per day, but for a runner, that goal rises to somewhere between 72 and 100 grams. Obviously, the heavier you are, the more protein you need and if your training is particularly intensive, you will also need a larger daily amount of protein. If you’re trying to reduce your weight, combining a sensible running program with a high-protein diet can be very effective as the body has to work harder to digest protein than it does to digest an equivalent amount of carbohydrate.
What foods are high in protein?
Protein is found in a long list of foods and if you know what they are, it can be relatively easy to add them into your diet. Without a doubt, eggs are the most useful source, containing all twenty of the amino acids that make up protein; they are also the most versatile food, being easily adaptable for a main meal, or as a convenient snack. Seafood, pork and poultry are also good sources as long as the fat has been removed from the meat and it is cooked using a healthy method, such as grilling. Nuts are a handy protein snack for runners since they contain essential electrolytes, such as sodium, which can easily be lost via sweat during a long run.
Although protein is a vital part of your diet, it’s not always convenient to boil an egg, or cook a full dinner, so sometimes it can be difficult to add to breakfast and lunch meals. One way to make protein more accessible for these meals and to keep track of how much you’re getting is to use a whey protein powder; you can create tasty shakes that can be used as meal replacements if dieting, or as snacks between meals if you’re trying to add lean muscle. Whey powder can also be mixed into things like porridge, or sprinkled over a meal to boost your intake.
Protein really is a not-so-secret weapon.