Source: Runner's World -
Nutritionist Ann Grediagin, Ph.D., R.D., from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, studied the impact of a long-distance run on protein stores in a group of men and women ultrarunners. The runners participated in the McDonald Forest 50-K in Corvallis, Oreg., a grueling 31-mile race. Study participants ate a standard high-carbohydrate diet along with ample protein for 3 days before the race. During the race, the runners were allowed to consume as much high-carbohydrate food and beverage as they wanted, such as energy bars, gels, fruit, cookies, and sports drink. Blood samples were taken from each runner 30 minutes before the start of the race, at the halfway point, and immediately following the run. The blood was analyzed for biological markers that indicate protein breakdown. It took the runners 6 1/2 to 7 hours to complete the 50-K distance. At the halfway point, the runners began to experience a rise in the rate at which their bodies broke down protein. During the final 3 hours of the race, their rate of protein breakdown quadrupled. This huge increase in protein breakdown likely indicates that once the runners used up their muscle glycogen, they started using protein for fuel.
What this means to you: "Whenever you run for 3 or more hours, you'll need to prepare yourself by stocking up on both carbohydrates and protein," concludes Grediagin. In other words, you should be carbo-loading and protein-loading beforehand. You'll also want to take in both of these nutrients as you recover from your long runs.
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