Runners rely on efficiency. The record for a single squat is 1,250 pounds, but runners lift much more than that over time. If a runner weighs 125 pounds, then within ten steps, 1,250 pounds have been lifted. Obviously, these were not lifted all at once, as the weight is in a squat, and a runner could not squat that much. However, over time a runner moves an enormous amount of weight, his or her bodyweight. If the same runner takes 1,500 steps in a mile, then 187,500 pounds has been lifted in small increments. These are hypothetical, but realistic numbers.
Protein is an essential component of runners’ diets. It is the most important tool that bodies use to perform at their peak. Runners must be efficient to move all that weight in a timely manner. Just as runners must be some of the most efficient athletes, proteins are the most efficient molecules in food.
Calories, which are a measure of energy, come in a variety of forms: sugar, fat and protein. Of these, proteins are the healthiest, because they are the most efficient. Proteins have the most energy, in one of the most useful forms.
A gram of sugar, when compared to a gram of protein, has less energy. In its simplest form, glucose, sugar is quickly used. This is why people experience sugar rushes, followed by crashes. More complex forms of sugar must be broken down, before they can be used. Proteins however, have a lot of energy that can be immediately used and will last for awhile. Proteins provide sustained energy, instead of a quick rush.
When compared to fat, the calories found in protein can be used more quickly. Fat must first be processed by the body, before it can serve any benefit. Usually, by the time fat is ready to be used, the immediate need for it has passed. Then, it is stored, usually around the hips or torso. In contrast, protein does not need to be altered before it can serve a purpose. Proteins can immediately be used by cells to rebuild muscles.
What Proteins Do
Proteins build muscles. The body uses proteins to rebuild muscles, during their recovery after a workout.
While running, hundreds of tiny tears are made in muscles. After a long jog, runners’ legs are fatigued and sore; marathoners can barely walk after their races. This is because lots of miniscule tears have been made in their calves and thighs, not to mention the upper body.
After exercising, these muscles are slowly repaired. Mending the tears can take a day. During this time, cells use proteins to rebuild those muscles.
Proteins are the tools that bodies need to build muscle mass. They have the necessary energy in the proper molecular form. Proteins provide energy without waste, so that muscles are built and fat is not stored.
Tasty Ways to Consume Protein
One of the quickest ways to intake protein after a workout is through a shake. Protein shakes should be drunk immediately after a workout, as soon as the body begins to repair its muscles. Here are two simple and delicious recipes to try.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie, with Almonds
- 1 banana
- 1 1/4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 10 whole almonds (optional)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 3 tablespoons chocolate or vanilla flavored protein powder
1. Blend the banana strawberries, almonds and water.
2. Add the ice and blend until smooth.
3. Add the protein powder and blend until fully incorporated (about 30 sec.).
Berry Chocolate Smoothie
- 1/2 cup nonfat milk
- 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
- 1 cup frozen berries
- 2 tablespoons chocolate-flavored powdered protein supplement
- 2 teaspoon chocolate syrup
1. Blend Everything!
These recipes are some convenient, protein-rich drinks. Runners would rather be running than cooking, and these recipes will keep them out on the course. They can be made quickly and will provide the energy needed for prolonged exercise. With these, runners will have the protein they need to build efficient muscles.