Runners hear it all the time of the importance of protein. But how much of it do we really need in a day? Even non-runners seem to consume too much protein than they need in today’s protein-obsessed society.
It’s said that runners need extra protein. Adequate protein intake speeds up recovery and help build muscle fibers. How much is adequate? Are both animal and plant protein sources created equal? It all depends on your body weight, the amount of training and gender.
The USDA’s Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram ( or 0.36 grams per pound ) of body weight. Unless you train really hard and put in a lot of mileage week after week ( over 50 miles a week ), there is no reason to add on extra protein than recommended. It’s said that men need more protein than women since men have more muscle mass, larger bodies and higher caloric intake than women. Eating just a four ounces of chicken provides about 32 grams of protein and combine that with other foods on your plate. Even sources of carbohydrates like breads, pastas, rice and vegetables have at least 3-6 grams of protein per serving. Beans, legumes and nuts are good vegetarian sources of protein too.
When to take in protein is most important for recovery and muscle adaptation. 7-15 grams of protein with carbohydrates should be taken immediately or within an hour after a workout. Amount of protein intake should be adjusted to the intensity and duration of a workout. A protein shake with carbohydrates and protein ratio of 4:1 is a good option post-workout.
Your body can only process and absorb so much protein at one time anyway. The maximum amount is said to be about 25-30 grams at one time. Too much protein can lead to unwanted weight gain and can be toxic. The bottom line is that it’s best to eat moderate amount of protein with each meal to stay healthy and energized for your next workout.