February 19, 2013
Tip #7: Eat Enough Protein
Protein is very, very important. You’ll notice that this tip comes before tips about eating carbs and fats. It’s that important!
A typical meal for a person in marathon training should include carbohydrates, fats and protein. About 20-30% of your daily calories should come from protein sources.
Proteins are chains of amino acids used in a lot of different places. Most obviously, proteins are used to build muscles, and rebuild muscles that have been damaged. Proteins also appear in your hair, nails, bones, blood cells and almost every chemical enzyme.
There are many, many sources of protein. All forms of meat including beef, pork, chicken and fish are great sources of protein. Dairy products and eggs also contain protein. Protein can also be found in certain vegetables, especially beans. Nuts and seeds are also great sources but these come with significant calories, salts and fats.
There are several different opinions of how much protein you need:
Method 1: By Calories
If you were supposed to eat 1800 calories each day, and 20% of your calories should be protein, you should eat 360 calories of protein each day. Since each gram of protein has 4 calories, you’ll need to eat 90 grams of protein each day.
Method 2: By Body Mass
Various sources will recommend that you eat between 0.8-1.8 grams per kilogram of your body weight. For marathoners involved in intense training, I’d lean on the high side.
Someone who is 150 pounds weighs 68 kg. So this person will need to eat between 54 and 122 grams of protein each day.
Getting 90 grams or protein per day is not very easy.
-A hamburger patty has only 28 grams of protein
-A large egg has only 6 grams
-Half a cup of cooked soy beans has 14 grams of protein
Take a measure of how much protein you’re eating each day. If you’re feeling really hungry, you are very likely craving protein. Very often people consume carbohydrates when hungry instead of protein which they actually need.
As extreme endurance athletes, I recommend you invest in a protein supplement such as a powders, bars and shakes. I previously recommended that you avoid processed products, but this is an example of where a manufactured product may exceed what nature can provide.