Mixing protein powder and runners

The running community doesn’t have a lot to say about protein powders, and I never had much reason to experiment with them.  But when  I was invited to sample and review a variety of GNC and Vega protein products through Fitfluential, I decided to accept the challenge to learn more about the benefits of protein powder.

As a protein powder newbie, here’s the progression of my questions and the answers I am finding…

Isn’t protein powder just for weight-lifters?

True, those big guys at the gym are probably downing their protein powder.  But protein powder also has a lot of benefits for the average active person.

How can protein powder benefit you?

There are many benefits: taken before exercising, protein powders can improve strength, endurance and performance; afterwards they can help to repair and build muscle and reduce your overall recovery time.  Some powders are designed to be absorbed quickly as fuel for working out or recovery, while others provide a slower, steadier absorption rate.

Should runners use protein powders?

I found a number of articles that encouraged protein powder for runners, especially as a post-workout recovery drink.  The authors of The Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training do not think protein powder is necessary, but agree that it can be helpful for those who may not get enough protein through their diet.

What are some of the options?

There are many! The ones I have been sampling include: whey, soy, egg, casein protein powders from GNC, and Vega Sport (vanilla).

Here’s a brief overview of each:

Whey:  fast absorbing; best before or after workouts
Casein: digested slowly and steadily, best between meals or before bed
Egg: Good for those with lactose intolerances; best immediately before or after workouts
Soy: complete plant-based protein; ideal for those avoiding animal products
Vega: another plant-based option; within 30-90 minutes of working out, or to recharge/repair

How can I use the powder?

The powder is designed to be mixed with milk or water as a drink, but there are countless ways you can be creative with protein powder, including smoothies, protein bars, pancakes, or dips.  I took the opportunity to try Jess’s protein bars, and they are delicious! I love the fudge-like texture.  You can find her recipe as well as a few others on GNC’s blog.

I also added a scoop of chocolate soy powder into my cookies:

I am most interested in the plant-based powders, but it was fun to experiment! As a runner, I don’t have the need for excessive protein but could benefit from a recovery protein smoothie.  And as a mostly vegetarian, I do have to pay attention to my protein intake.  I like the idea of occasionally adding protein to our family pancakes, bars or cookies.

What’s your take on protein powder for runners?

Any favorite ways to use it?

These products were sent to me for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

January recap and FitFluential

First of all, I’m excited to announce that I’m joining the FitFluential team! I follow a number of bloggers who are part of this network, and they have had great things to say about their experience.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn more from each other.

January Recap: At the end of each month, I plan to revisit my 2012 goal post as part of a monthly recap to track how my progress and to record my stats.  Here’s January!

Running Related

  • January stats: 13 runs- total 89.4 miles; 9 spin classes- total 200 miles; 1 swim- 1.2 miles; 17.25 walking miles and weights 2x/week
  • Cross Training Challenge: Check! I went to the Ball-ates class at our gym
  • Running Buddy: No success here yet… but I haven’t been working too hard

Personal and Family Balance

  • Evening quiet time:  I’ve been trying to read most evenings before bed, although most nights I don’t always get too far before falling asleep
  • Computer balance: Sticking to my plan so far of early am, naptime and/or pm computer time rather than getting off and on all.day.long.
  • Reading: Finished “Running Without Pain” (Bridge) and “Generous Justice” (Keller)… and hundreds of kids books, that should count for something  🙂

I’m happy with this month’s stats… I’ve been running low mileage with only 3 runs a week, but plan to build it slowly over the next several weeks.  The highlight of the month was definitely the Houston half marathon weekend and meeting other blogging friends! I’m also excited to have kicked off the Purposeful Running stories, starting with Jamie’s.

Final update… just last night I decided to leap into Twitter land.  I still know very little, but I look forward to connecting with many of you there.  Let me know if you tweet so we can follow each other!

My handle is @mommyrunfaster, or you can find me here!