8 Amazing Protein Foods For Running And Weight Loss
Most of us know we need to eat plenty of protein to fuel our bodies and recover from running training. What are the best sources of protein for women runners?
It’s a good idea to vary your food sources as widely as possible – and this goes for protein, too. Not only will this mean you benefit from a fuller spectrum of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) but you’ll take in a wider array of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. And, of course, you’re less likely to get bored of your nutrition if you keep it varied!
Stay health and strong with these protein foods, they’ll help keep you feeling fuller, will offset cravings for sugary carbs, and will give your body what it needs to recover from training and racing.
Not only is chicken one of the leanest sources of protein available, it’s so adaptable too. There are countless ways to cook with chicken breast, from oven baked to diced in slow cooker recipes, cut into stripes for stir fries or curries or minced for homemade burgers or bolognese-style sauces. Cold cooked chicken can be put in sandwiches or wraps, on salads or eaten as a quick snack on its own. Chicken is a low-calorie, low-fat source of high protein with a good array of amino acids. What’s your favourite chicken recipe?
Perhaps you used to avoid eggs because of the cholesterol thing. Research has now proven that the dietary cholesterol in eggs does not raise our own cholesterol. So eat plenty of whole eggs. There are so many good reasons to eat eggs: they are high in protein, contain a little fat (and it’s all the good kind!) and they contain every single amino acid. In fact, they are considered a “perfect” protein, making them ideal for vegetarians (and not a bad idea for meat eaters either!) Packed with nutrients, fat soluble vitamins and protein, why not try eating eggs for breakfast?
Remember when chocolate milk was touted as a good post-workout option? The reason wasn’t due to the chocolate. It was because of milk’s high protein levels. Remove the chocolate aspect (and with it, the added sugar) and just drink milk for high protein, some carbohydrates (from lactose) and almost zero fat if you choose skimmed milk. Non-dairy milk alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk are good choice too but read the label and avoid added sugars, salt and oils. There’s some evidence to suggest women should avoid soya products, including soy milk.
Canned tuna is a really useful store cupboard staple for busy female runners. These days you can even buy “no drain” versions, ideal for keeping in your gym bag, locker or glove compartment so you’ll always have a source of low-fat, high-protein food in a pinch. Add tinned tuna to salads, combine with vegetables and tomatoes as a pasta sauce, or as a topping for jacket potatoes. Tinned tuna is absolutely jam-packed with protein, gram for gram.
Good Quality Beef
Quality lean beef (ideally from your butcher, so you can trace the source) is an excellent way to get protein, healthy fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Choose your favourite cut of steak as an at-home treat, or use minced lean beef for chilli, pasta sauce or homemade burgers. Beef is high in lots of minerals, including iron, which are important for female runners. And it’s a good source of healthy omega essential fatty acids.
Think outside the box when it comes to lean protein meat sources. Turkey can be eaten all year round, not just at Christmas, and is a viable alternative to chicken. It’s slightly higher in some minerals, slightly lower in fat (than chicken) and therefore a fraction higher in protein, too. Use it just as you would use chicken. We particularly like using turkey mince in home-cooked dishes. As a nice aside, turkey is a good source of selenium which is thought to help aid restful sleep and recovery from running.
Real Greek yoghurt (not Greek yoghurt “style”) is an amazing source of protein, containing both whey and casein (milk proteins). It lends itself well to savoury or sweet dishes. Greek yoghurt has been strained, so its protein level is more concentrated. There are numerous ways to enjoy Greek yoghurt: stirred into bolognese style sauces, as a topping for chilli, added to porridge or granola, as a snack topped with nuts or seeds, or with fruit or berries.
Whey Protein Isolate
Any protein powder would be a good addition to your nutrition approach as a runner, but whey protein isolate (WPI) is probably the best. It’s the nearest thing to a perfect protein source you’ll find, with the highest biological value of any protein food. It’s processed from milk with a very precise form of micro-filtration which removes fat and carbohydrates, leaving you with a protein powder which is almost purely protein.
You can find WPI as an ingredient in protein bars, or buy the powder and make it into a post-run shake simply by adding water. It’s also a good option if you don’t tolerate lactose well, since the pure processing method means most of the milk sugar has been removed. If you can’t eat dairy at all, you’ll need a different type of protein powder: try pea protein or brown rice protein, both of which are vegan.
What types of protein do you eat on a weekly basis? Has this article prompted you to try changing things up and varying your protein sources?