Protein and the refueling window

There’s something satisfying about shocking someone. Even when it’s shocking in a bad way, deep down someone like predictable, reliable me takes a certain amount of glee in saying something surprising.

I think I shocked my trainer this morning. Not in a good way.

It started innocuously enough. I’m thinking about trading in my usual post-workout recovery beverage – coffee – with something a little more, uh, nutritious. Of the areas of my training that could use improvement (and there are many, I’m sure), this one seems like the one with the most potential for growth. Because, from a performance standpoint, I pay exactly zero attention to it.

How do I refuel after a workout? Coffee… definitely. Food… eventually, though not always in that 30-90 minute window. And if I’ve scheduled something right after a run, you’d better believe a good shower and makeup are going to take precedence over food.

I’ve always assumed that I’ve got the nutrition piece down. I cook whole foods, choose organic produce and grass-fed meats, and eschew processed food. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, try to get daily servings of dairy, lean meats, whole grains… what else is there?

Apparently, a lot. Bethanee started rattling off terms like branched-chain amino acids and calculations like this one to determine how much protein you need in a day:

Grams of protein = 1.2g/kg of body weight

In other words, if you weigh 110 pounds, your daily protein intake if you are an endurance athlete should be around 70 grams.

Whaa? How is that possible? To my novice ears, that sounds like a shit ton. I believe my current coffee recovery drink has exactly none.

A quick perusal through the Google and my refrigerator concurs. A 1 cup serving of skim milk has 9 grams of protein. A 4 oz. chicken breast has 27 grams. 1/2 cup of cottage cheese has 13 grams. How can I maintain my cracker consumption when there’s all that protein to consume?

No protein in sight

As I return to running after a break and injury I realize that I really need to work on the nutrition side of things too. Sometimes I get hung up on the *noise* surrounding nutrition that I hear, well, everywhere. You can’t swing a dead cat this time of year without seeing something about how you should and shouldn’t eat: Don’t eat at night, no snacking between meals, CARBS ARE POISON! – and I forget that I’m eating for a different cause. Those muscles aren’t growing themselves (especially at my age), and apparently I’m not doing a whole lot to help them. It’s time to start.

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