Are you a new runner and wondering about all this talk of Protein? Here is a simple easy to understand Primer without too much scientific jargon.
What is Protein?
Protein is a collective name of about 22 amino acids. Of these 9 are considered ‘essential’, which means that the body cannot make it on its own and has to be consumed directly. The other amino acids can thus be converted from various other nutrients and need not be consumed in its direct form.
What does Protein do?
The Amino Acids are the building blocks of the body. They are required for repairing and building muscles, ligaments, bones etc.
How much Protein should one take?
The answer to this depends on whom you ask.
The US Recommended Dietary Allowance of Protein is 56 gms per day. http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html
But sports nutritionist have a different point of view. It is generally believed that endurance athletes must have about 1.2-1.4 gms per kg of body weight, while strength athletes must have about 1.4-1.8 gms per kg of body weight.
This means that if I weigh 57 kgs then I must have 57 X 1.2 = 68 gms of Protein
What happens if I take more / less?
If you take less than what you need then your body may not repair itself well after a good workout. This can lead to overtraining stress and its resultant risk of injuries etc.
If you take more then the body will throw it out via your urine. Also it will place an extra load on Liver and Kidneys and also kidney stones are a possibility. Your body has very limited capacity to store/ buffer protein, so extra consumption cannot be banked.
When should I take it?
Ideally all meals should be sufficient in Protein throughout the day. But however if you are taking a protein supplement ( such as Whey protein ) then the best window of opportunity is considered to be within 20 minutes post exercise. And along with the protein some carbs must also be included for assimilation. And taking more than 25-30 gms of protein at one time is a waste. The body does not have the capacity of metabolise more than this in one serving.
Hope this helps