One of the nutritional questions that often arises among runners is: How do I know if I am getting enough protein? Signs that your diet may be lacking in protein can include decreased energy, you may feel weaker when running or strength training, or you find yourself becoming injured more often and not recovering effectively.
The amount of protein you need depends on a variety of factors including age, activity level, and your size. The general formula for determining the minimum number of grams of protein you need daily is as follows:
Your weight (lbs) x (0.37) = grams of protein (minimum) needed daily
Although there is no clear cut formula for the number of additional grams of protein needed due to higher level of activity, it is thought that athletes who run long distances or do strength training benefit from eating additional protein. Some nutritionists suggest eating 10 to 20% of your daily calories as a guideline. With this metric, the more active you are, the more calories you consume and the more protein you need.
If you think that you might be lacking in the protein department, it’s worth tracking your eating habits for a few days. Should you need to up your protein intake, try increasing your intake of meat or fish, legumes, nuts, or dairy products. I recently began incorporating quinoa into our meals. Quinoa is a grain that is also relatively high in protein (16.2% compared to rice which is around 7.5%) if you are looking for a good side dish to serve with meals.