You’ve just finished a long run, maybe training for a marathon or half marathon. Now is the time to give your body what it needs to recover. A protein shake after a post run is a perfect way to re-fuel.
Regular runners burn more calories than those who are less active. Their bodies break down protein, especially if they haven’t consumed enough carbohydrates before the run. Because the protein breaks down and used as fuel, it cannot do what it is there for – to aid in muscle growth and repair.
Protein shakes give your body a boost in repairing the microtears in the tendons, muscles and tissues throughout your body. Sure, most of the microtears are in the legs, but when you run, the entire body is working as well.
The body breaks down the protein to obtain amino acids that aid in tissue repair. When consuming a protein shake after a long run, this feeds your body’s needs and helps speed up the repairs to the body. The faster the repairs, the quicker the recovery time.
Long runs require endurance regardless if the run is for fitness, race preparation, or just for pleasure. When looking for a post run protein shake, you will want one with isoleucine, valine, or leucine listed in the ingredients list. These three ingredients contain branch-chained amino acids.
The branch-chained amino acids help muscle development which can help the legs become equally strong and are able to run faster. When the muscles get stronger, it can increase your endurance and stamina needed for longer runs.
Most people are dehydrated even without out long runs or intense workouts. During a run or any physical activity, the body uses up more water through both the body working and through perspiration. Dehydration can lead to side cramps or fatigue, but not taken care of, can lead to further medical conditions, like heat stroke.
It is important to make sure that in addition to any protein ingested after a long run, that you take the proper steps to also stay hydrated. High doses of protein can lead to dehydration. One protein shake will not throw you into dehydration, but make sure to watch your fluid intake both during and after your long runs.
Reduction of Inflammation
It is common for runners to have pain in their joints and muscles after long runs. This causes inflammation in those areas. It is the body’s warning sign that there is some kind of injury and the body needs to send repair cells to that area.
While pain is an important signal for athletes to be aware of, excess inflammation can just be painful and can slow down training and performance. Whey protein shakes can help because they have anti-inflammatory properties.
Note: Do not use whey protein if you are allergic to dairy products.
How Much Protein do I Need?
When training with long runs, extra protein needs to be part of the athlete’s diet. If the training runs are an hour long, the runner should be consuming 0.6 grams of protein per pound. So a 150 pound runner needs to be getting 90 grams a day. (Someone with a sedentary lifestyle should be only consuming 0.36 grams per pound or 54 grams for the same weight.) The longer the run, on a regular basis, the higher the amount needed will be.
Should you eat all 90 grams in one or two meals? NO! The best thing for your body, is to spread it out over the day, including right after your long training runs or races. The best way for your body to absorb protein, and other nutrients, is through food instead of pills. A protein shake is a great way to get the needed protein into your body after a long run or intense workout.
Consuming a protein shake after a long run will give you many benefits when it comes to repair, recovery, muscle building. Training and fitness is not just about what physical activity you do or for how long, it is also about what you put in your body to fuel it. An athlete with the proper nutritional fuel will perform better and recover faster than one who is deficient. The better you take care of your body, the better it will take care of you.