Protein is almost always associated with strength athletes who drink a protein shake after training to help kick-start protein synthesis, a metabolic process that plays an important role in rebuilding muscles bigger and stronger. Carbohydrates are the favored macronutrient of endurance athletes who need all the muscle glycogen they can get to fuel long-duration aerobic exercise.
A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that exercise in the aerobic zone does not result in muscle hypertrophy (increased size), but increases muscle's oxidative capacity. So why is protein important for marathoners? The duration and intensity of exercise determines how long protein synthesis will be suppressed and how long muscle tissue will continue to degrade post-workout.
The BCAAs in a pre-workout protein shake might provide some anti-catabolic support to help reduce the rate and duration of muscle breakdown during endurance exercise. Post-workout protein might also help kick-start the protein synthesis suppressed by endurance training. Drink a shake after your next run to see if you recover any faster. Then check out today's Breaking News post at Optimumnutrition.com to find out how protein contributes to energy and alertness.