Word association game – Protein powder, what did you think of?
I see big sweaty guys in the gym, muscles bulging, veins popping, picking things up and putting them down, oh and it smells like a locker room.
I used to avoid protein powders like the plague, I did not see the point. I am a long distance runner, I don’t lift thousands of pounds on a daily basis, I’m not trying to gain weight, but once I learned the science behind protein, well, I am trying to change my ways.
Let’s take a step back to move forward – What is protein?
Protein is a nutrient that we receive when we eat certain foods. It can be found in meat, poultry, beans, eggs, and nuts. Chemically speaking protein is made up of amino acids, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are the building blocks of muscle mass.
Besides for consuming protein in our day to day diet there are alternative sources of protein such as soy, hemp and whey. Whey is a byproduct of cheese making, and frowned upon by vegans everywhere. It is associated with lean muscle mass, and weight loss… but also for those looking to bulk up as it is the best for regenerating muscle mass. Hemp protein comes from a hemp plant and compared to the 20 grams of protein per scoop in whey, hemp only contains 5 grams per scoop. Soy protein is isolated directly from the soybean. It most commonly found in salad dressings, soups, breads, pastas and pet food (meow).
Besides for beefing up your muscles protein is a component of every cell in the human body. Protein makes up 17 percent of body weight, and is crucial in cell repair, enzyme production, fluid balance and blood clotting. (Trust me, I helped teach a high school biology class this fall.)
Wow, protein does more than I thought! How much do I need!?!
Don’t worry, if you eat a balanced diet chances are you are receiving a sufficient amount of protein… well if you consider yourself normal that is. But we are runners, we are super human, we run for hours on end! Having additional protein will replace the protein that you used during exercise, help build lean tissue, and help recovery so you are ready to go again tomorrow morning!
For the average Joe protein recommendation is 0.36 grams per pound for adults. For us super humans, also known as runners, we should aim for 0.55-0.77 grams per pound. If you in an intense training or racing period obviously aim high. Protein at this amount will help you maintain your energy, keep your muscle mass, and decrease your risk of the dreaded injuries.
Example: I am a 135 pound runner whose training is on the heavier side, I will typically aim for 0.65 grams of protein per pound. So do a little math, I am aiming for around 88 grams of protein per day, and if you knew how many beans I eat, I can tell you I am over this number almost regularly.
Okay So How do I (Lauren_Runs_Here) Get Protein?
Some people that I hang out with (*Cough* Zach *Cough*) live on that chalky 20 pound bottle and scoop out 1-2 scoops and throw it in water and go about their day. I am not that person. I don’t want to drink chalk that is so chemically flavored to taste like rainbows and butterflies, gross.
Recently I’ve received a sample of Real Whey Protein Isolate from Realist Lifestyle that has really sparked my interest. So far I have scooped it in a smoothie, threw it in pumpkin oatmeal, and snuck it in pancakes and I was not able to tell it was there. The wonderful “Ghost” flavor, really hides and you are able to get more protein in your diet without making it a chore. I find powders are a great way for me to up my protein intake, just because I do not have the best consecutive meal plan (meaning sometimes I eat lunch, sometimes I forget, sometimes I just have 8 snacks).
You’re not into the whole protein powder deal? Well that’s fine, I guess. Let me introduce you to my friends: Cottage Cheese, Ground beef (hello tacos), beans, and peanut butter! Of course not all together, that would be gross, but these few things are super high in protein and won’t kill your diet either.
Okay so from the top. Protein is an essential nutrient for everyone, not just body builders looking to gain 9,000 pounds in lean muscles. It can be found in every cell of your body and will help your muscles recover faster, keep fatigue down, and help you get out the door for your run in the morning. So runners who think they are too good for protein, I recommend you reconsider.
Bede, P. N. (2014, February 4). Protein For Runners 101. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://www.runnersworld.com/fuel-school/protein-for-runners-101
Szalay, J. (2015, December 10). What is Protein? Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://www.livescience.com/53044-protein.html