The benefits of protein powder for runners
By Henry Howard
I’ve tried various protein powders and other similar products for recovery from my training and races. The one that stands clear above all others is Gnarly Nutrition’s Vegan Protein Powder. In this writeup, I'll cover the benefits of protein powder for runners, how much endurance athletes should consume and more.
This is the last installment of a four-part series about using clean supplements as part of fueling and recovery for endurance athletes. The series started in May with an overview of BCAAs, followed by a look at creatine and last month’s focus on hydration. The series concludes with a look at how I use Gnarly’s Vegan Protein Powder to boost my health and recovery.
Thanks to Gnarly Nutrition for sponsoring this series. I’ve been a huge supporter of Gnarly since discovering them during a trip to Utah just before the pandemic. Their approach to clean, athlete-created nutritional products meets my needs. I choose supplements that are NSF certified, made with natural ingredients and allow me to perform my best. Gnarly does all that and more.
Why do runners need protein?
Protein is as important for long-distance runners as it is for weightlifters. Its aids in tissue repair, exercise recovery, injury prevention, immune function and the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
When should runners consume protein?
First, let’s look at how much protein a runner should consume daily. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, which is too low for runners. Generally recommendations for runners call for consuming between 0.5 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. For a runner weighing about 150 pounds, that’s 75 to 150 grams of protein a day.
It is important for runners to get protein within 90 minutes to two hours of their workout, as well as throughout the day. Since our bodies cannot as easily store protein as they do fats and carbs, a regular flow of protein helps the body continually repair itself.
So for that 150-pound runner, that could mean 20 grams of protein after a workout and between 25 to 40 grams at each of three meals during the day, as well as a small snack containing 10 grams of protein. That would add up to between 105 and 150 grams a day.
What should I look for in a quality protein supplement?
The first thing to look for is independent certification that the supplement has been tested and approved. I look for NSF Certification, which is recognized by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as the gold standard in third-party testing.
NSF Certified Gnarly products are tested for true label claims, microbe content, heavy metals and pesticides. NSF for Sport Certified Gnarly products are additionally tested for over 300 substances on the WADA banned substances list.
Just as important as having the NSF certification on the label is using quality ingredients on the product inside. Gnarly does not use artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors. They also leave out soy and gluten, which as a Celiac I heartily endorse.
Gnarly Vegan combines pea protein isolate, chia seed protein and cranberry seed protein to deliver 20g of protein per serving. It’s free of cholesterol, highly digestible, and hypoallergenic. By combining these proteins, Gnarly Vegan contains all nine essential amino acids and is a rich source of antioxidants, and healthy fatty acids.
Aren’t protein powder mixes chalky or have a bad taste?
Many protein powders do have a chalky taste, no matter how long you shake them up. I have found that Gnarly Vegan has a rich chocolate flavor (it also comes in vanilla, which is good too) and mixes easily with other supplements I add from time to time such as Gnarly’s Performance Greens, chlorella or amla.
What’s in Gnarly’s Vegan Protein Powder?
Gnarly features the essential protein you need for active meal replacement or recovery with absolutely no animal-derived ingredients. It’s made out of pea protein isolate, cranberry seed protein and chia seed protein.
In addition to its 20 grams of protein, the plant-based protein blend offers 7 grams of healthy fats, 7 grams of fiber and 14 essential minerals and vitamins.
Also worth noting, it only has 3 grams of sugar.
Is Gnarly Vegan Protein Powder easy to digest?
Gnarly Nutrition includes a digestive enzyme blend and probiotics in their protein products to improve digestion, maximize protein assimilation and improve general gut health. As someone with a long track record of gut issues, I can affirm that the vegan mix works wonders with my digestive system.
That concludes my special four-part series on the best supplements to use during training, running and racing. Whether you are refueling or recovering for a marathon or ultra, turn to Gnarly Nutrition.