When you hit the pavement -- or the treadmill, if you prefer running indoors -- you want to give your muscles and tendons all the fuel they need to maximize your running performance. Protein shakes -- either the ready-to-drink beverages or the powders you mix with water or milk -- can do just that, giving your system a dose of supporting nutrition that can help take your running to another level.
Reduces Recovery Time
When you run, microtears occur in your tendons, muscles and other tissues throughout your body, but specifically in your legs. After your run, these microtears elevate your body's demand for the amino acids found in protein; these acids help with tissue repair and rebuilding. Protein shakes provide a rich dose of these amino acids your body can absorb faster than through whole foods. This can help enhance the speed at which your body repairs those tears, reducing the recovery time needed after your run.
Increased Strength Exertion
When you're propelling your body forward during your run, you need a sustained source of energy. Typically, runners turn to carbohydrates, but the protein in protein shakes can help provide energy results and strength similar to carbs. Regularly drinking a protein shake after your run can help replenish your body's stores of energy in preparation for your next bout of exercise. Additionally, many protein shake products include carbohydrates, which can help refill your muscles' depleted glycogen levels.
When you run, your body burns through moisture, both through the actual physical exercise as well as through side effects, such as perspiration. Dehydration can lead to common running problems like side cramps or a faster onslaught of fatigue. Protein shakes may help provide hydration, but you should still drink plenty of water to maintain good fluid balance.
Endurance matters on a run, especially if you're a distance runner. Some protein shake products contain branched-chain amino acids in the form of isoleucine, valine or leucine -- such ingredients are listed on its label. These specific amino acids help to not only enhance muscle development -- strong legs equal stronger, faster runs -- but can also help your body increase its endurance and stamina.
Some runners experience pain and inflammation in their joints and muscles after their run, often in their knees. Drinking a protein shake, specifically one crafted from whey protein, can help; whey protein possesses calming anti-inflammatory properties.