Perseverance.  Focus.  Endurance.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, (2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.)
        Hebrews 12:1-2
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Blog Archives - 2012
Good Nutrition For Runners Part III

Now for the protein. Protein is SUCH an essential part to any diet. It's capabilities and benefits are great. But what exactly is protein? Sure, you've heard of the latest high-protein diet craze, and those protein shakes you endlessly consume to help you build muscle, but have you ever taken a closer look? Proteins are part of every single cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. As we exercise (or just live), those proteins are constantly being both broken down and replaced. The proteins we consume through food are digested into amino acids which actually replace those broken down proteins in our bodies. I'm gonna get a little technical here, so please bear with me. Proteins are made of amino acids, which are essentially your body's building blocks. There are many different amino acids that join to form different types of proteins. Some of these are called essential amino acids, since our bodies can't actually make them on their own. This is why we need to supply our bodies with these through our own diet.

Proteins make up about 15% of the mass of the average person. In fact, every single function of any living cell depends on proteins! So if you aren't getting enough protein in your diet, especially as an athlete, your body can't function as it is supposed to! As a runner, I'm sure you've been told that carbohydrates are more important than protein, but that is totally wrong. Protein and carbs are equally important for any runner! Your muscles can't repair or rebuild themselves if you don't have an adequate amount of protein in your diet. Did you know, that when you're running, each footstrike can carry anywhere from 2-7 times your bodyweight? With all that strain on your body, you need protein to allow your body to handle that. You will also be able to heal faster and resist injury better with the right amount of protein in your diet.

So now for the actual food part. Sorry to keep you waiting, but hey, I think we all need to be educated on what we're eating, so you can go tell your buddies and look real smart. Who knows? Maybe someone will actually come to you for some nutrition advice next time (winning!). The USDA says that you should be eating around .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. But that's where they're wrong when it comes to athletes. It's recently been claimed that runners should be taking in about .72 grams per pound. In English, that would be something around 75 to 120 grams of protein every day. But this is for a runner in the weight range of 160. If you weigh less, then you'll need to take that number down a notch. If you're not a vegetarian runner, then it's pretty easy for you to get that much.

  •  Lean meats and animal products like eggs and milk pack a lot of protein. Whey, which is a by-product of milk, is also full of protein, which is why they put it in protein shakes. And please please PLEASE try to stick with the lean meats, because the fat in some meat interferes with the proper absorption of the protein, so stay away from high-fat foods and that prime rib! (of course, on occasion, you can have it in moderation. Moderation, that is the KEY!) There are also vegetable-based sources of protein, for you vegetarians out there. Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy pack some protein, but not quite as much as other sources. Try to eat protein-rich vegetables/grains whenever possible, like quinoa, soybeans, and oats.

So next time you're carbo-loading for your next race or long run, add some turkey, soy or eggs to that plate of pasta!

Happy Eating!

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