Throughout history, running has been a tool utilised by those wishing to escape enemies, predators, and the collapse of civilisations. Now, however, people run for enjoyment, to keep fit and boost their mental health and wellbeing.
For a lot of people, running is a recreational way to exercise, often with friends or as part of a local club. For others, it’s a fundamental part of their lifestyle. And, for those of us who are competitive, there are marathons, personal bests and exceeding distances over time to think about.
Protein powder helps the body with muscle protein synthesis - the repair and growth of muscles after exercise - and can also give you an energy boost. It’s shown to be popular amongst those who are looking to bulk up and are involved with strength training (you can learn more about protein and muscle growth here), but how can it benefit runners?
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at how protein powders can benefit runners, what effects they might have on your performance and if there is a particular type of protein which is more beneficial than others.
- How can protein powder help your running progress?
- What protein intake should runners aim for?
- How do runners make sure to get enough protein?
- Which type of protein is best for running?
How can protein powder help your running progress?
Protein is a macronutrient, meaning that the body requires sources of it in larger quantities (when compared to micronutrients). This is especially important for athletes, as it aids in the building, repair and growth of muscle over time. It also contains amino acids, which have various vital functions in the body, and you can read more about that in our guide to amino acids. However, protein powders can also help you to improve your performance, so they’re not just for bodybuilding!
Protein is also a source of energy. When we exercise, the hormone ghrelin which stimulates our appetite decreases, meaning that we might not feel hungry after a run. If the thought of a meal after exercise makes you feel a little queasy, opting for a protein shake can give your body what it needs without sitting too heavily in your stomach.
What protein intake should runners aim for?
The average person should aim for between 0.8 and 1.2g of protein for every kilo that they weigh. However, the amount within that is dependent on a number of factors, such as lifestyle and levels of activity. We have built a guide on the amount of protein you might need for your goals.
However, it has been suggested that endurance athletes, such as long distance runners, may need more protein. Whilst protein itself is used in minimal amounts during exercise, it’s essential for muscle protein synthesis (the act of building muscle) and muscle repair which, after higher impact activity, is vital for recovery. A lack of sufficient protein to perform these repairs may hinder your training progress, and you might not see the improvements that you’re hoping for.
Whilst it is always preferable to obtain your protein from a healthy, whole-foods plant-based diet, powders and shakes are a convenient option for a good boost post-run, whether that’s at the gym or on long country roads.
How do runners make sure to get enough protein?
You should always be looking to spread your intake throughout the day with a variety of healthy proteins. The body can only use between 30-40g of protein in one go, so it’s not a good plan to frontload your entire requirement at the start of the day, as some of it might well be wasted.
Having a protein shake for breakfast, popping some protein powder into your porridge or maybe baking something delicious to enjoy with a cup of coffee is a good way to start your day with some extra energy!
Which type of protein is best for runners?
There is no definitive type of protein powder which is better for runners, it’s all about finding one that works for you as an individual to suit your needs.
However, you should definitely be looking to avoid as many added chemicals as possible, and opting for powders made with the highest quality ingredients. Vivo Life’s range of plant-based options to suit all lifestyles, from our PERFORM vegan protein powder with BCAAs, for those who need extra protein for endurance and recovery, including 6g of BCAAs, to our organic vegan protein, containing 21g of plant-based protein per serving. They are all heavy metal tested and popular with professional athletes and those of us who are just trying to get a bit healthier!
Now, where did I put my running shoes?
- Which Protein Powder is Best for Runners and Triathletes? — Marita Radloff Nutrition
- Indicator amino acid oxidation protein requirement estimate in endurance-trained men 24 h postexercise exceeds both the EAR and current athlete guidelines
- What to Eat After a Run: 15 Great Choices
- Protein for runners: the lowdown
- Here's how much protein you should be eating, and from what sources
- Definitive guide to protein powder for running and training