Protein power

How do we as runners feel about protein recovery shakes?

A couple years ago, I took to preparing a tasty protein shake after hard lifting workouts, and I now do the same thing after a long, hard run. This was based not on any advice from sports nutritionists, but on advice from gym-rat friends and anecdotal evidence (if Kara Goucher feels better after consuming a protein shake after a speed workout, clearly, I should, too). And I think I notice a difference in my speed of recovery — or is that just my mind playing tricks on me?

Sports nutritionists recommend refueling after a long run with a snack that has a 4:1 carb-protein ratio. Kathryn Parker, a sports dietitian who has counseled U.S. Olympic track and field runners, among other fancy-pants athletes (read my interview with her here), offers this formula to figure out how much to eat: Divide your weight by two, and eat that many grams of carbohydrates after finishing a long run. So an entirely theoretical 125-pound runner should eat 62.5 grams of carbohydrates. If we stick with the 4:1 ratio, that’s 15 grams of protein.

Seems like there’s enough evidence there to keep up my post-run protein habit, so I’m going to share my favorite protein-shake recipe here:

1 scoop vanilla-flavored Designer Whey powder (or other protein powder)*

1/2 c milk

1-2 frozen bananas

Hershey’s syrup

1 shot espresso (you can use instant espresso, too)

Blend in food processor or blender.

* Chef’s note: Runner’s World offers a similar recipe in its most recent issue. It gets its protein from Greek Yogurt instead of protein powder. If nobody in your house yells at you for buying this exorbitantly expensive treat, try subbing it for the powder and a little of the milk … and let me know how it goes!

How do you feel about protein shakes for post-run fuel? And other tips for getting your protein fix? Share them by posting a comment below.


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8 responses to “Protein power

  1. Editor’s note: My friend Christina says the following recipes/smoothie tips helped her through a different kind of recovery — from reconstructive jaw surgery (ouch!):
    “From someone who had major reconstructive jaw surgery two years ago and had to drink my meals for five months – frozen fruit works better than ice, because it doesn’t get watery. I liked the protein powder that had little to no sugar in it — the fruit is sweet enough. Just add plain or vanilla yogurt and your favorite fruit juice.

    Another fave is chocolate syrup, a teaspoon of peanut butter (even if you are a peanut butter lover, don’t use much more then a teaspoon. It is overpowering), ice, a banana or two and coconut milk. Yummy! The peanut butter adds extra protein, too.”

  2. Courtney

    enjoyed your article. all this knowledge i’m gaining from your blog makes me feel like i need to train for something, then i remember— i have to stay dedicated for more than 2 weeks. hmmm…

  3. Sarah H.

    Great post, Amy! My favorite protein shake consists of chocolate soy milk, a teaspoon of peanut butter, 1/4 of plain low fat yogurt, and 1/3 a banana perfectly blended in my Magic Bullet with 3 ice cubes! The yogurt gives the drink the perfect tang. I’ve been unhappy with the two “designer” protein powders I’ve tried in the past. Are you allowed to share what brand you use? I don’t want to upset any of your sponsors : )

  4. Sarah: Thanks for the awesome-sounding recipe! What a great use for both yogurt and soy milk! I’m happy to share that I use Designer Whey Protein Powder in French Vanilla — not because I think it’s better than others, but because I haven’t tried anything else and it’s fairly low in calories (100 per giant scoop).

    Courtney: Whether you’re training for an event or not, I’d get on these recipes. Full disclosure: I had a smoothie with frozen berries, protein powder and milk this afternoon, and can confirm that post-workout or not, it’s pretty awesome!

  5. Sarah H.

    Wow, I feel really stupid…I had no idea it was actually called “Designer Whey Protein”. I’m humbled. Thats why I shy away from leaving these posts…I show my ignorance to EVERYONE!

    • No way! The world would be worse off without that yummy recipe — keep the comments coming! And truly, “Designer Whey” is one of those products so strange and obscure-sounding, I was almost surprised to see a package on the shelf called “Designer Whey” after my friend Mike recommended it.

  6. Fin McCool

    My daughter Courtney passed this note on quite some time ago and ask that I forward my recipe of 20 years plus. 8-10 oz Orange Juice, 1/4 Shaklee energized vanilla Protein, 1 banana, as of last year been adding teasp. of Filtered Flax seed oil, Tablespoon of Ascia Gold extract, 2 teas. Psyllium Husk, teasp Risom – Vit D. The basic drink is for recovery, the other dailey additives is obviously long term health.

  7. Pingback: Recipe: The perfect post-run protein shake « Amy’s Training Blog

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