How Does Protein Help Runners?

Brooks Shoe Finder

Protein shakes or protein bars? Protein before a run or protein after a run? As a runner, you probably have a lot of questions about when’s the best time to be getting your protein in, and how you can most effectively consume it, in order to hit your running goals.

Firstly, what actually is it and how does protein help my running?

Protein is in every part of your body – muscle, bone, skin – it’s everywhere. And it’s important because it powers chemical reactions in your body and helps oxygen get where it needs to go.

Protein itself is made from building blocks called amino acids. We have about 20 of them in our bodies – some we make ourselves and some (the important ones) come from what we eat.

If we don’t get enough protein, we might struggle to grow, lose some muscle, get sick more easily and damage our hearts and respiratory system.

As you train and run further, your body will need to build more muscle. So, more protein.

As a runner, where should I get my protein?

As mentioned above, there are different types of amino acids. And different foods contain different types of protein. In eggs, for example, you’ll find leucine. Dairy, on the other hand, contains whey – a type of easily-digestible protein which is great for rebuilding muscle post-run. If you use whey protein in your protein shakes, then a protein shake following your run will help you recover quickly. If you’re running for a long time, then mid run fuel is important, but instead you might want to focus on quick-releasing energy sources, like energy gels and carbohydrates.

Other great sources of protein for runners:

  • Lean meat or poultry
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Soya
  • Quorn
  • Pulses
  • Nuts

And if you are looking for high-protein meal ideas, we have some exclusive recipes designed with runners in mind. This page has some more nutrition tips, and also a few excellent recipes for recovery: Recovery Nutrition and Recipes for Runners | Great Run Training


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