Runners not only have to support their carbohydrate energy needs they should consider their protein needs, as well. After all, the goal of active people is to maintain their muscle mass, not burn it for fuel. Runners that consume inadequate amounts of protein are at risk of breaking down their muscles for energy and increased incidence of injury. They also do not recover as well from run to run, experience fatigue, and they may feel prone to getting sick because amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are necessary for the immune system.
To ensure that you are landing enough protein in your diet, we have provided the equation below, backed by the USDA, to determine the daily protein requirement for an adult(I know, I know...what sex is this adult? what age is this adult? You ask good questions). This is a quick calculation, so treat it as a jumping-off point. Follow the steps below to determine how much protein you need to ingest daily, to establish your ‘jumping-off point.’
- Take your body weight(most accurate first thing in the morning, empty bladder, if you care)
- Convert the weight from pounds to kilograms. There are 2.2 lb. per 1 kg. So divide your weight 500 lb. / 2.2 kg In this example, our subject weighs 227 kg
- Plug the weight in kilograms into the conversion calculation.
- Sedentary adults should get 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
- Endurance runners and strength training athletes need up to 1.4 or 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram, respectively.
So I’m jumping off...how do I refine the protein needs of MY body, for MY training day?
This is a quick calculation, so take it for what it is: a place from which to start tracking. Let’s say you start with 1.3 g per kg of bodyweight. If you are feeling great and you are recovering quickly, this is a good quantity of protein for you. While you are training if you find you keep getting injured or are not recovering well, you may need additional protein.
Experiment with a small change to your protein intake, perhaps increase to 1.5 g per kg, and wait for a week or so to see how your body adapts. Another idea I have heard involves the athlete consuming a greater quantity of protein only on harder training days, sticking to the lower intake value on a rest day. Paying attention to your body means making small changes in your protein intake until you see a positive difference in your recovery speed. Endurance training with the right amount of protein enables you to train hard on workout days by repairing and growing your muscles AND will ease a more rapid recovery.