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The Most Effective Protein Shake Routine For Runners

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Carbs often get all of the hype when running, but protein plays a big part in your performance. Carbs are great because they are an immediate fuel source and supplement that your body taps in the middle of a run. Making sure that your body gets enough protein is equally important. 

A good protein shake helps your tired muscles repair more quickly, which prevents your muscles from becoming sore and replenishes lost energy. Ensuring that you guzzle a protein shake within 30 minutes of your run aids in muscle mass recovery so you feel fresh and ready for training the following day. 

So, when is the right time to make a protein shake, why it is essential, and how much do you need? Let’s dive in!

 Why Runners Need Protein

Contrary to what you may think, protein shakes aren’t just for weight lifters. 

A healthy diet consists of carbs, protein, fiber, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. If you lack one of these core components, your performance (and overall wellbeing) will suffer. Carbs and protein play the most significant roles in overall performance and muscle repair for runners. 

If you aren’t getting enough protein every day, your body will take longer to repair tired muscles. To build strong muscles, you need to fuel your body with protein.

Runners also need to build strong muscles to increase speed and endurance like weight lifters. Building strong muscles is the key to speed and endurance, so supplementing a protein shake is a great way to ensure that your body gets the fuel needed to grow stronger and repair quickly. 

When To Drink A Protein Shake

Making sure that you hit your targeted protein intake for the day is your key to success (more on that a little later).

Drinking a shake 30 minutes after your workout is ideal for optimal absorption.

After a brutal training session, mix up a protein shake 30 minutes after your cool down. When you are finished running, your muscles are most vulnerable and more receptive to sucking up all of those nutrients from your post-workout shake. 

How Much Protein Do You Need?

A sedentary adult needs about .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day. That amount of protein climbs to 1.4 to 1.7 grams for active adults and runners per day.

That means I need around 104 grams if I were sedentary and 182 as a runner. Seem like a lot? That’s because it is!

One cup of chopped or shredded chicken contains around 43 grams of protein, so I need to consume over 3 cups of chicken to hit my targeted protein goals.

Adding a protein shake after your workout makes it so much easier to hit your protein goals for the day. 

Best Protein Shakes For Runners

Unlike weight lifters and bodybuilders, runners need a good blend of protein sources and carbs for optimal performance.

When shopping for a protein shake for your needs, grab a brand that includes carbohydrates. Many protein powders offer a high protein level without as many carbs, which may help keep the calories low, but it’s not ideal for runners that need a blend of both. 

Below I have found a few protein powders with higher levels of carbs that are perfect for runners.

  • UCAN Energy + Plant Protein Powder

UCAN Energy + Plant Protein Powder

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This blend is perfect for runners because it provides 20 grams of protein per serving and 22 grams of carbs. Derived from a plant base (rather than whey protein that contains dairy), this formula is much easier on your stomach.

Plus, the added carbs in this blend will stabilize energy levels and keep you full. It’s slightly more expensive than some of the other brands on the market but well worth the extra cost for runners that need something suited to their needs. 

  • Vital Performance Protein Powder

Vital Performance Protein Powder

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This blend doesn’t have as many carbs as UCAN, but it’s still an excellent choice for runners. One serving has 25 grams of protein and has added benefits such as grass-fed collagen peptides, EAAs, and BCAAs to help muscle recovery more quickly.

Adding Carbs To Protein Shakes

The perfect post-run shake has a 3:1 or 4:1 protein to carb ratio, and many of the protein powders don’t quite hit this sweet spot. So, how can you add carbs to your post-workout shake?  

The easiest way to incorporate high-quality carbs into your protein shake is to throw a banana there! One banana has around 27 grams of carbohydrates, and it’s packed with a healthy serving of potassium, which helps balance electrolytes in your body. 

If you don’t have bananas on hand, simply grabbing a handful of pretzels or nuts/peanut butter with your protein-rich shake is another great way to strike that perfect carb-to-protein balance after a run!

Verdict

Protein and protein supplements aren’t just for weightlifters and muscle growth.

As a runner, you already know that recovery is just as important as performance. If your body is tired and your muscles are sore – your run and cardio training will suffer! To keep your muscles in tip-top shape- protein is critical. 

Adding a protein shake (along with a good serving of carbs) helps fight muscle fatigue, prevent injuries, and promote strong muscles to keep you running at your best.

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