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2. Eat healthy, lean sources of protein.
Protein is the main muscle-building nutrient required to repair the small micro-tears inflicted on the muscles with every challenging workout. Therefore, it is critical that runners who are in danger of overtraining consume ample amounts of lean protein. This extra protein consumption will provide the essential nutrients and amino acids needed for muscle repair.
How to incorporate extra protein in your diet:
The most complete proteins come from animal sources such as fish, poultry and limited amounts of red meat. If you think you’re slightly overtrained or riding that fine line, consider adding salmon, tuna and chicken to your menu. These protein sources also have other important nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and iron.
Don’t add artificial animal protein sources like deli meat or processed meats. Simply add grilled chicken breast to your lunch — on a salad or in a sandwich — and include salmon or red meat in your dinner.
If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll need to combine protein sources to ensure you’re getting the full range of essential amino acids. For example, you can combine grains with legumes or dairy, vegetables with soy or dairy, or legumes with nuts. Whatever your favorite combination, make sure you’re eating extra protein if you believe you’re pushing the boundaries of overtraining.
How much protein?
As a general rule, runners need 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. However, because you want to promote recovery and you’re trying to consume extra calories, you should aim for 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, a 160lb runner (72.7kg) would plan to consume 144 grams or protein per day.