As runners we all know we should be eating carbohydrates and for the most part we do a good job of consuming enough of them but on the protein side we may be a bit behind the times on the amounts and quality of protein that we need. When speaking of protein and performance together we often thought of weightlifters or body builders that needed to bulk up but rarely in terms of runners. We had this old fashion image of that scrawny bony runner when we thought of performance. Truth is runners today are stronger and more powerful than their counterparts of 20 years ago. We know now that distance runners need power and speed as much as they need endurance and stamina. To this end you must consume a good amount of protein on a daily bases in fact preferred in every meal. Remember every time you workout and use any muscles it takes time and fuel to recovery those muscles and get them ready for the next workout or race. Protein is the building block for muscles and without it you will not get stronger and in turn faster.
So we are cleat that we need protein but how do we get that? I am not stating that you go out and buy a steak dinner each day. Most steak contains a high level of protein but also contains large amounts of fat. There are leaner cuts that help but we want to look at healthier options for runners to still get the right amount of protein but avoid other pitfalls like unhealthy fats and bad cholesterol. You want to gravitate towards other sources such as Fish, Chicken and Tuna. Did you know that per calorie Albacore Tuna contains more protein than almost any other food. In fact one can of white tuna can contain up to 41 grams of protein. That's only 220 calories with that much protein. How about nuts such as almonds contain 6 grams of protein per ounce of almonds. They are a great source of vitamin E, fiber, and healthy fats. Then there is eggs. Once label as a bad food due to its cholesterol levels now we know better and each egg contains 7 grams of protein not to mention the very healthy amino acids as well.
There are many healthy choices of protein for runners and not to mention great tasting but you need to be smart in what you eat and how much. Remember you only need 1/4 of your meal to be protein the rest should be mostly Carbs with some healthy fats thrown in. you only need 80-100 grams of protein per day so keep note of that. So this makes more senses a 5 ounce piece of chicken already contains 40 grams of protein. So in general runners need protein but healthy protein and in small quantities. Select your food carefully and try to get the most protein for small amounts of calories and avoid the unhealthy fats. Here is our list of recommended food items:
Coach Rojas has 11 combined years of coaching experience at various levels including coaching a high school D1 State finalist team and 3 years in a row of a top 10 state ranking. He is passionate of the sport of running and loves to see new runners take up the sport! He wants to share a lifetime of running experience to all