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How Much Protein Do Runners Need?

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

The topic I would like to discuss today is about nutrition in particular nutrition for the athlete, even more particularly the nutrition and protein intake for track athletes.

So for those of you that are unaware, I will be running the 2022 Chicago marathon for the Illinois spina bifida association, so I'm currently in the process of training. I haven't really started running yet, but I am performing a lot of high intensity interval training as well as weightlifting. So I'm trying to train that cardio and muscular systems. So nutrition is a big part of the rebuilding process from the training.

Today I am going to be showing you what I am eating for lunch and I'm eating a very high protein diet right now. There's steak in there and a potato. I already had some tuna and then this morning, I also had some eggs as well as a protein shake in between.

So I'm consuming high protein diet because it is currently in agreeance with the academy of nutrition and dietetics of Canada, as well as the American journal of American college of sports medicine that athletes get about 1.2 to two grams per kilogram of body weight. You can find out those equations online, or a lot of them have calculators that you can use to tell you how much protein you should be consuming based on your current weight.

More specifically for track athletes, I found this nice paper that has to do with dietary protein, trading adaptation, and body composition in track and field athletes. It's from the international journal of sports medicine and exercise metabolism and some of the recommendations they have that are more specific for runners include first for the athletes that aren't trying to necessarily lose any type of weight or gain any type of weight.

So they're in that right body composition for their optimal performance. They're going to consume about 0.8 to one grams per kilogram of body weight a day of protein. For those athletes that have the goal of weight maintenance or even gaining weight, it moves up to suggesting about 1.3 grams to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. If you're trying to put on a little muscle mass, you're going to want to increase that to closer to 1.5 to 1.7 grams now for the optimal meals per serving.

So this is going to ensure that you are utilizing all the protein that your consuming because if you do consume it all at one meal, some of that protein will get turned into waste and you won't get the optimal use out of those nutrients. So what they recommend for each meal and generally these meals consist of four to six meals throughout the day is 0.3 to 0.4 grams per kilogram of protein per body weight. They've also noticed that intakes of protein that are higher than about two and a half grams per kilogram of body weight have no physiological adaptive benefits. So if you're consuming too much protein, it's not really going to benefit you, in fact it could actually cause harm in regards to our kidney health.

They also know what the optimal daily protein intake for track and field athletes with the goal of high quality weight loss should be. So this is important because we want to lose weight for certain individuals to get at a healthier weight for performance. They do not want you to exceed 1.6 grams of kilogram per body weight. So if weight loss is one of your goals, keep it closer to a one gram per kilogram or 1.5 grams per kilogram so we're not converting any that extra protein into fats or glide.

They did also find that the high protein diet that is around 2.4 to 2.5, even though it didn't really offer physiological benefits, it did not put these athletes at increased risk of kidney problems or poor bone health. I did want to inform you guys on that as well. Just to make sure, if you are consuming a lot of protein and you're worried about your kidneys there is a very high limit.

So as long as you're monitoring with blood tests and things, then we'll make sure that you're not going to have any of those types of symptoms associated with kidney dysfunction. For those of you training, feel free to send certain meals that you like as far as high protein meals.

And feel free to comment and share this video as well. Thank you.

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