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Are Protein Shakes Good for You After Running?

author image Joshua Duvauchelle
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.
Are Protein Shakes Good for You After Running?
Smiling woman after exercising with a protein shake. Photo Credit: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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.

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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.

Proper Rehydration

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.

Better Endurance

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.

Reduced Inflammation

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.

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