Diet, especially the protein aspect of it appears to be the most important yet, most overlooked part of any runner’s diet. While most athletes place more of their focus on their daily carb, electrolyte and water intake, protein is often the nutrient that is discounted.
When in fact, protein is the main ingredient that is needed to aid in the muscle recovery, repair and regrowth and helps in refueling the body’s muscle stores better.
In September, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has released a research paper that was worked upon by 9 researchers in the field of nutrition and exercises and concluded that, people like runners who engage in exercise regularly not only need to be more careful about their caloric intake but also need more of protein.
During running, the exertion on the body is so much so that with every strike of foot, a runner could be carrying 2-7 times more of his weight and protein is what exactly keeps the body healthy and sustained under that kind of physical strain. Taking in enough amount of protein improves the muscle repair and recovery and thereby, helping in re-building muscle fibers that were exposed to exertion during the running session. So, when athletes make it a point to increase their overall protein intake, they are less likely to experience muscle injury while the opposite remains true for those who take in very limited or little amount of protein through their diet.
While protein primarily tends to the repairing of tendons and muscles, it is also needed for the regulation of hormones. The more often you put any kind of exertion over your muscles, say through increasing the distance you run for, that much more recovery and repair work will be needed for your muscles.
And not just that, an improved protein intake has also been linked with maintaining a stronger and better immune system. With protein, there is stimulation and production of white blood cells, which helps in protecting the upper-respiratory problems.
How much is ideal?
As per the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), the allowance for protein per day is 0.8 gm. per kg of body weight. While this is true for most that follow a sedentary lifestyle, athletes need more than just 0.8 gm. of protein per day. As per ISSN, endurance athletes (runners) need anywhere between 1 gm. to 1.6 gm. of protein per kg of body weight. With this recommendation, you need not worry about ‘overdosing’ on protein.
Opt for protein sources like lean meats, milk and milk products and Whey protein powder, eggs- these give you the best quality, class-1 protein. Limit the high fat containing protein sources such as red meat, as the fat then interferes with the pace at which protein is absorbed. Vegetarians or vegans can opt for plant protein sources like beans, pulses, lentils, nuts and oilseeds (sunflower, flaxseeds, etc.), soyabeans, etc. However, since most plant sources are not complete sources of protein (as they do not contain the complete 9-amino acid profile) they can opt for sources like eggs, dairy or whey as an added bonus.
So instead of putting all your focus in into getting a variety of carbs onto your plate post-run, try and get yourself a balanced diet which is a mix of all the essential macros in their right quantities, well distributed throughout the day for better nutrient absorption and optimum benefits.
Add OZIVA Protein & Herbs Shake to Your Diet if your diet is lacking in proteins.