Posted on 03-08-2011
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

***Editors Note: While I’m busy putting together teams for the the Digital Running Club in the next few weeks, I’ll have a few guest bloggers. Today’s guest is my old college friend, Juan Roberto. ***

When it comes to the diet of a distance runner, carbohydrates are typically the most often mentioned form of fuel. Terms like “carbo-loading” are familiar not only to dedicated runners, but to the general public as well. While carbohydrates are the fuel of choice for a hard workout, most coaches and doctors agree that protein is required to build muscle and recover after that hard workout.

The use of protein supplements by runners is often debated with some claiming that typical runners get all of their required protein simply by eating a normal diet and others saying that runners must focus on taking in enough protein or risk damaging their muscles. In many cases, protein rich foods can be high in fat (or just plain filling), so it’s easiest to get the extra calories and protein by using protein powder.

Most athletes make their protein powder as a shake, but there are other creative ways to work the powder into your diet. Professional marathoner Ryan Hall, for example, uses Muscle Milk in his Pancake Batter. This balances the carbohydrate rich meal both by adding protein and reducing the need to use sugary syrup for flavor.

Runners who specialize in sprint distances can benefit from the fast twitch muscle building power of creatine supplements. These are typically used for building muscle mass and are common among bodybuilders. So, creatine supplements should probably be avoided by most distance runners.

Though most popular protein supplements are synthesized from animal sources, there are some good vegan options as well. You can find vegan protein powders made from hemp, pea, brown rice and flax seed proteins. Vegan protein powders are thought to provide the short term benefits of animal based protein powders without the long term risks of heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.

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