May 03, 2019
It takes a special type of person to be a runner. Not just everyone can run for miles upon miles (upon miles!) on end, so it makes sense that this classification of athlete would require a slightly different amount of protein than the average, moderately-fit person, to fuel their high level of exertion.
The International Association of Athletics Federations released a consensus statement last month, which was then published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, outlining the amount of protein that runners require — and it’s more than the USDA recommended guidelines.
The statement suggests, according to Runner’s World:
• Athletes who have a goal of weight maintenance or weight gain should consume 1.3 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day (0.6 to 0.77 grams per pound). That would be 88 to 116 grams for a 150-pound person. This translates to 0.3 to 0.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per meal—or around 20 grams of protein per meal for a 150-pound person—plus protein-filled snacks throughout your day, too, according to Louise Burke, Ph.D., head of sports nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport and coauthor of the review that lead to the IAAF’s new statement.
• Athletes who have a goal of maintaining their muscle mass should consume 1.6 to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day (0.7 to 1.1 grams per pound). That would be 105 grams to 165 grams for a 150-pound person.
It’s worth noting that while these guidelines and surrounding research was created specifically for professional athletes, Men’s Journal notes, the information is most certainly applicable to serious runners, too.
Depending on your individual running goals, you can take these new running-focused protein guidelines and apply them to your life. Men’s Journal suggests consuming 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass if you’re running to build lean mass and 1.6 to 2.4 grams if you’re trying to lose weight while increasing lean muscle mass.
Currently, the FDA recommends 50 grams of protein per day, based on 2,000 calorie diet, but as we know, these recommendations aren’t necessarily the most accurate. In fact, they aren’t applicable to most people.
And don't forget, red meat is not the only source of protein. There are plenty of meat, dairy, grain and plant-based protein options to enjoy in a balanced diet.