Protein is important for female endurance athletes, as it helps build and repair muscle tissue. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the recommended daily allowance of protein for an adult is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. Adequate protein consumption is very important for promoting muscle health and recovery as well as overall well-being.
Iron-rich foods -- whether they are animal or vegetable based -- can also be good sources of other nutrients that are vital to your overall health. A runner who trains and races at a high intensity can benefit from a little extra protein in his diet. The best protein shakes for runners contain about 10 to 20 grams of one of these complete proteins along with fresh fruits and milk. Because of this added strain, proper nutrition and hydration for female marathon runners is paramount.

According to Douglas Kalman, who is quoted in an article in "Runner’s World" by Christopher Collier, a runner carries between two to seven times her bodyweight with every footstep taken. This degree of added stress to a runner’s muscles makes protein one of the most important elements in a female marathon runner's diet. Consuming enough iron is particularly important for female endurance athletes because iron can be lost during periods of excessive sweating, such as during training or over the course of a marathon. A runner needs a complete source of protein after a run, meaning one that contains all of the essential amino acids. Look for one with the optimal 10 to 20 grams of protein and about three times as many carbohydrates. Insufficient nutrition in female marathon runners can result in symptoms of tiredness, burnouts, training plateaus and more frequent injuries. However, this amount of protein is only for those who are looking to maintain their current muscle mass as well as overall body health.

During the menstrual period, female athletes naturally require more iron to maintain healthy levels in their body. If you are a female marathon runner who avoids or limits your consumption of animal products, eat a sufficiently large amount of vegetable-based protein sources to meet your protein requirements. Consult a nutritionist or another medical professional to confirm that you are meeting your protein requirements through a variety of healthy sources. Eating enough protein from a variety of sources will help you keep your iron levels healthy. In the same "Runner’s World" article, Richard Kreider states that protein can help stimulate white blood cell development, which helps maintain respiratory health.

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