Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number and variety of protein shakes on the market. These days, protein shakes are being taken by everyone from heavy-lifting bodybuilders to long-distance runners.
It is clear that these nutrition-packed protein shakes have become a post-workout routine for so many types of athletes. Protein shakes can really help you increase your endurance and build muscle. In this article, we’ll take a look at the many benefits of protein shakes.
Main Benefits of Protein Shakes
The main benefit of protein shakes is the amount of convenience they offer. They are portable and useful in situations where food availability is limited or if you find it hard to consume real (solid) food before or after a workout.
The advantage to drinking a powdered recovery drink is that you do not need to refrigerate it, so you can store it in a locker at a gym or in your car. If you enjoy a classic drink that is both delicious and protein-packed, there are now a wide variety of flavors available and they will all provide the protein and carbs you need to recover after a workout.
Runners, as endurance athletes, can enjoy the benefit of eating more protein than their less active friends. A protein shake plus a few extra carbohydrates after a run helps activate muscle repair and improves fatigue and soreness following a long, intense run.
If you are having a shake, try to consume it within about 30 minutes of finishing your run. During this “magic window”, the body can process the protein shake better. The reason protein is so important is because that is the nutrient that allows your body to properly recover. Without protein, athletes would be constantly breaking down their bodies, but then would not be able to build them back up. So, protein is essential for every distance runner after each workout.
Some supplements and protein shakes are specifically designed to take advantage of this “magic window” that arises right after intense exercise. We’ll take a look at those a little later in this article.
There are many protein sources you can select after a long run. You could eat hummus with carrots or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But some runners find it hard to eat solid food immediately after a workout and for those people, liquid nutrition in the form of a protein shake can be a very good solution.
Carbo-loading is a well-known practice before long races. Most distance runners eat mountains of pizza and pasta before their races. There is no doubt that carbohydrates are important for fueling distance runners, so when you are selecting your protein shake, be sure to choose one with carbohydrates. Some protein shakes advertise themselves as being very low in carbs (which is good for weight loss), but you do actually need this nutrient as part of a balanced diet for optimal running performance.
We suggest choosing a shake with a 1:3 or 1:4 protein-to-carb ratio for your post-workout drink. So if your shake has 20 grams of protein, you might aim to consume up to 80 grams of carbs as well. You may not find just the right ratio in your drink, so you might want to have a banana or another snack too. Have this protein-to-carb ratio post-workout meal within the first 30 minutes after you stop exercising.
Most athletes never consider when exactly they get better. If you are a runner, it is not technically during a run that your muscles gain strength. It is in between your runs that really improve your strength and endurance. During a long run, athletes work their muscles so hard that they tear just a little. After that long run, their bodies fix those tears and rebuild the muscles stronger so the tears do not happen as easily in future long runs. This is how athletes get stronger and faster.
Types of Protein Shakes
As we’ve been discussing, many modern athletes now take protein supplements for strength training, to reach peak performance, or simply to enjoy better health. Protein shakes may be prepackaged or made by mixing protein powder with water, milk or juice. They usually contain added protein from whey or soy, but some of them may contain pea protein, casein or hemp protein as well.
A protein shake generally contains between 15 and 25 grams of protein, though some do contain more than that. Be sure to do research on the type of protein supplement that will be best for you. The U.S. protein shake market reached $4.23 billion in 2018, and it is still growing every year. This means a wide range of different protein shakes for you to try and they can easily be bought through Amazon or other online sites.
CONSTRUO Post-Workout is a supplement that contains premium whey isolate and a full five grams of leucine. This primes your body to start repairing muscle and replenishes your electrolytes and glycogen with a unique 3-carbohydrate blend, which forces the cell into a state of protein synthesis and growth. This further feeds your body with creatine monohydrate to keep your muscles full and primed to perform during your next long run.
For distance runners looking to drink a powdered shake post-workout, you should try to find one of the best protein shakes specifically for endurance athletes. Two popular and effective brands are Endurox and Hammer Recoverite, which can also easily be bought through Amazon or other online sites.
All of these protein shakes will improve your recovery and markers of soreness. A 30-minute light jog on the treadmill is not enough of a workout to warrant post-exercise recovery fuel. But if you set off on a hard training run for longer than an hour, or run a race like a marathon, you should most certainly have a protein shake after running.
Running and Physiological Adaptations
Consuming a protein shake, particularly one containing whey, can really improve your running performance. A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences showed that when whey protein was taken by elite athletes after a marathon, several of them had reduced inflammation following their run and they experienced improved endurance performance as a result.
This important and revealing finding was made when the elite athletes were compared to other runners in that marathon who had consumed only maltodextrin, which is a type of carbohydrate. This is one of the reasons these researchers recommend whey protein for runners following a long run.
Also, protein supplementation provided to those runners immediately after the marathon did not alter the recovery process in the first 24 hours, but it did change their perception of fatigue and muscle soreness over the next 72 hours. The elite athletes also recovered faster than their counterparts who had only carbohydrates. This is especially valuable in training. Drink protein after your weekly long run, and you will find yourself recovering faster so you can get back out on the road soon for another long run.
Strengthening Your Core
If you are going to be doing a lot of miles, the tension in your deep inner-core muscles will be increased. Although some people train their core area mostly with crunches or other similar exercises, the main jobs for your core are antiextension and antiflexion, which are factors that come heavily into play when you are out on a long run.
Working on antiextension exercises is a good way to help the muscles of your spine. As for antiflexion, your spine tends to bend to the side with your shoulders, which can sometimes lead to injuries if you are not careful. Running can also be useful if you want to strengthen your back as well as your core. This type of exercise has often been used during physical therapy to treat conditions that might have developed in the lower back, such as herniated disks.
Aim for Greater Protein Intake All Day
Especially on hard training days, endurance athletes like runners will benefit from an increased intake of protein in general. Protein shakes and chocolate milk are easy ways to increase your daily protein intake and improve your muscle-building potential. You can drink your protein shake after your long run, or any other time during the day if it is more convenient.
Since endurance athletes require a protein intake that is greater than the recommended daily allowance, they should be consuming protein at higher levels than people who have average or moderate activity levels. One of the first things to do to improve your performance is to make sure you are getting enough protein.
The Role of Protein
Amino acids are the main components that make up protein. Protein is made from more than twenty of these basic building blocks called amino acids. Humans do not store amino acids, but make them either from nothing or by modifying other amino acids. Nine amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) are known as the essential amino acids, and they generally come from food.
Amino acids constitute a distinctive part of the human body and diet. They are vital for the human body to function properly, so it is important to understand the role of amino acids in different types of protein. You’ll certainly want to select a high-protein shake that gives you a lot of amino acids.
People are finally starting to realize that protein shakes are not just for people who lift weights. If you take part in any form of exercise, your body needs a certain amount of protein in order to recover and repair itself. If you are not fuelling your body correctly before and after your long runs, it can lead to fatigue or serious injuries. Also, if your muscles are not getting the right amount of protein, it can really affect your ability to get fitter and faster.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that recreational athletes need to consume about half a gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. So if you weigh about 150 lbs, you should be eating about 75 grams of protein throughout the course of your day. More serious athletes should consume about a gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. So again, a person who weighs 150 lbs and engages in regular heavy exercise would need around 150 grams of protein per day.
A word of caution: if you are running primarily to lose weight, you need to watch what you eat and create a continuous calorie deficit. This means you should consistently be eating slightly fewer calories than you use. As a very rough guide, you can expect to burn about 100 calories per mile you run. So a ten-mile run will give you an extra calorie allocation of about 1000 calories post-run for that day.
For other protein sources, there are now a wide range of low-calorie lean protein powders that can help you on this quest. You might notice a slight increase in weight when you take up a new sport or exercise plan, but this is pretty normal. The extra weight might be coming from the extra muscle mass you gain when you start a different type of exercise.
After or Before Your Workout?
There is some debate among sports scientists whether it is better to drink protein shakes after running or before. Some of the best advice is to take a protein supplement along with some high-quality carbs about two hours before you start your cardio exercises, or to take a protein supplement within an hour of completing your workout.
Really, it is a personal choice. It is up to you to decide what works best for your body and your schedule. You certainly should not be reaching for a protein shake after every short run or cardio workout. The only time you really need them is if you think there will be quite a long gap between finishing a long run and eating your next meal, or if you plan to do another long run within the next twelve hours.
Taking Up Running as a Hobby
Running can be a great way to lose weight, boost your fitness levels, and improve your overall conditioning. It’s also one the most accessible forms of exercise there is. It doesn’t cost anything, you don’t need any special equipment, and you can do it on almost any road or just about anywhere else.
With such a low barrier to entry, it’s no surprise that thousands of people enjoy running as a hobby. Running is some of the best cardio you can do to improve your respiratory efficiency, muscular bulk and definition, articulation and mobility of joints, coordination, and endurance. When you are starting out as a beginner, your mental health has a big part to play too as you get used to some of the movements. Always warm up properly before you start and be sure to run with the proper form.
For maximum effect, always follow a comprehensive nutrition plan combined with a useful supplement. You can try our premium cognitive enhancer called Illumino, which is formulated to give you maximum mental energy without burning you out. You can choose from strawberry basil or caramelized pineapple as your flavors. Using a supplement like this can work well when you eat a nutritious diet and use proper running form.