WHY RUNNERS SHOULD USE PROTEIN FOR RECOVERY?

Runners need to increase their lean body mass for achieving the best performance. Chronic exercise regime has many benefits for sports performers, such as making an individual stronger, quicker and more powerful. After exercise the muscles are in a catabolic state where the cells are broken down from the damage during exercise, causing a weak protein synthesis (Rose & Richter, 2009). While the body undergoes major stress due to any endurance activity like cycling, it has a recovery window period to get over the stress produced. The scientific community concludes that there are some products when ingested before, during, or after the workout reduces the effect of catabolism and improves athletic performance (Kim et al., 2013). Many professionals are currently looking into the effectiveness of these products, and it is being found that branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) supplementation can be a successful method of enhancing the recovery process (Howatson et al., 2012).

Running Physiology

Skeleton gives strength and stabilisation to the body. When the heel of the foot hits the ground, shock waves move up the body through the spine into the head, spreading stress throughout the body. The human physic is made up of strong skeletal joints and limbs that are able to withstand these high-stress levels. It has the special features that provide stability and balance for a long-distance runner. For example, the trunk and neck are inclined forwards when they run, providing balance for the entirety of the body (Dermack, 2015).

What happens during running

Increased training is the ultimate prescription for improvement. Endurance sports like running have in some cases carried this to an extreme level. It is well accepted that over-load is necessary for improvement, whereas overtraining may result in a breakdown at some level thus impairing rather than improving the performance. If the recovery rate improves, hard training becomes possible without any negative impact. During running the excess energy is supplied from the glycogen. Along with this mechanical stress damages the muscle fibre. Water and electrolytes are also lost through sweating. Improved recovery can help achieve performance plateau at a higher level (Bishop, Phillip A. et al. 2008).

Recovery phase generally can be divided into 2 basic ways.

Immediate Recovery-It occurs between rapid, time-proximal finite efforts. For example, a runner has one leg in immediate recovery between each stride. During this phase, the leg muscles must regenerate ATP and remove byproducts of bioenergetics. The more rapidly that each leg recovers, the faster the runner can complete a given race distance.

Short-Term Recovery-The most commonly used term in exercise science, is “short-term recovery.” For example short-term recovery is the recovery between interval sprints or between weight training sets, or the recovery happens immediately after running. This is calculated between a 30 min to 2 hr window period.

Role of Protein in Recovery

The general trend is to have only electrolytes during and after running sessions, but it is not sufficient. During this phase nutrition plays a crucial role because there is only a limited time period of recovery. As the muscle breakdown happens at a greater extent, protein supplementation can reduce post-exercise muscle soreness (Millard-Stafford, et al. 2005; Romano-Ely, et al. 2006; Papacosta, et al. 2015; Luden, et al. 2007), enhanced mood (Papacosta, et al. 2015; Witard, et al. 2011; Rankin, et al. 2017), recovery of muscle function (Cockburn, et al. 2012; Valentine, et al. 2008; Rankin, et al. 2017) and subsequent exercise performance (Rowlands, et al. 2008; Hall, et al.2013. Cockburn, et al. 2013).

The protein supplementation can be obtained from whey protein source. Runners may choose Steadfast Nutrition LIV RAW or POWER PROTEIN as their immediate recovery protein.

If they choose POWER PROTEIN, they get a good blend of both slow and fast release protein along with natural cocoa which acts as a mood elevator because of its phenethylamine compound.

But sometimes runners don’t feel like drinking flavoured drinks immediately after running. This is the time they can choose the unflavoured  LIV RAW, which is derived from whey protein isolate. It has additional BCAA - Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, which according to Howatson et al. (2012) helps in a speedy recovery.

Conclusion

For endurance athletes like runners the intake of only electrolytes during the recovery phase is not enough. To replenish the muscles for a long run protein supplementation is important. As Triathlon athlete Ned Phillips once said “The Power of Now,” we should focus on the particular time  window which actually helps to achieve the ultimate goal.

Reference:

1. Rose, A., & Richter, E. (2009). Regulatory mechanisms of skeletal muscle protein turnover during exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology,106, 1702-1711. 

2. Kim, D., Kim, S., Jeong, W., & Lee, H. (2013). Effects of BCAA intake during endurance exercises on fatigue substances, muscle damage substances, and energy metabolism substances. Journal of Exercise, Nutrition and Biochemistry. 17.169-180. 

3. Howatson, G., Hoad, M., Goodall, S., Tallant, J., Bell, P., & French, D. (2012). Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.9. 20. 

4. Dermack, R. (2015). Long-Distance Running: An Investigation Into its Impact on Human Health. Physiology, Exercise and Sport Science. http://pitjournal.unc.edu/article/long-distance-running-investigation-its-impact-human-health 

5. Bishop, Phillip A., Jones, Eric., & Woods, A Krista. (2008). Recovery From Training: A Brief Review: Brief Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 22(3). 1015-1024. 

6. Millard-Stafford, M., Warren, G.L.,Thomas, L.M., Doyle, J.A., Snow, T., & Hitchcock, K.(2005). Recovery from Run Training: Efficacy of a Carbohydrate-Protein Beverage? Int. J. Sport Nutr. 15, 610–624. [CrossRef] 

7. B.C., Romano-Ely, M.K., Todd, M.J., & Saunders, T.S. (2006). Laurent Effect of an isocaloric carbohydrate-protein-antioxidant drink on cycling performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exercise, 38, 1608–1616. [CrossRef] [PubMed] 

8. Papacosta, E., Nassis, G.P., & Gleeson, M.(2015). Effects of acute postexercise chocolate milk consumption during intensive judo training on the recovery of salivary hormones, salivary SIgA, mood state, muscle soreness and judo-related performance. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab., 40,1116–1122. [CrossRef] [PubMed] 

9. Luden, N., Saunders, M., & Todd, M. ( 2007). Postexercise carbohydrate-protein-antioxidant ingestion decreases plasma creatine kinase and muscle soreness. Int. J. Sport Nutr., 17, 109–123. [CrossRef] 

10. Rowlands, D.S., Rössler, K., Thorp, R.M., Graham, D.F., Timmons, B.W., Stannard, S.R., & Tarnopolsky, M.A.(2008). Effect of dietary protein content during recovery from high-intensity cycling on subsequent performance and markers of stress, inflammation, and muscle damage in well-trained men. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab., 33, 39–51. 

11. Cockburn, E., Robson-Ansley, P., Hayes, P.R., & Stevenson, E. (2012). Effect of volume of milk consumed on the attenuation of exercise-induced muscle damage. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol., 112, 3187–3194. 

12. Valentine, R.J., Saunders, M.J., Todd, M.K., & Laurent, T.G.S. (2008). Influence of Carbohydrate-Protein Beverage on Cycling Endurance and Indices of Muscle Disruption. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab., 18, 363–378. 

13. Hall, A.H., Leveritt, M.D., Ahuja, K.D.K., & Shing, C.M. (2013). Coingestion of carbohydrate and protein during training reduces training stress and enhances subsequent exercise performance. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab., 38, 597–604. 

14. Witard, O.C., Jackman, S.R., Kies, A.K., Jeukendrup, A.E., & Tipton, K.D. (2011) Effect of Increased Dietary Protein on Tolerance to Intensified Training. Med. Sci. Sports, 43, 598–607. 

15. Rankin, P., Lawlor, M.J., Hills, F.A., Bell, P.G., Stevenson, E.J., & Cockburn, E. (2017). The effect of milk on recovery from repeat sprint cycling in female team-sport athletes. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab., 10, 1–10. 

16. Cockburn, E., Bell, P.G., & Stevenson, E. (2013). Effect of milk on team sport performance after exercise-induced muscle damage. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 45, 1585–1592.

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