Best Protein Powders for Runners

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As a runner, it’s important to fuel your body with the right nutrients to support your performance and recovery. Protein is a crucial nutrient for runners as it helps repair and rebuild muscle tissue that gets broken down during exercise.  Endurance athletes, like runners, need up to 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of weight (1). However, more casual runners may only need 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram. One easy and convenient way to increase your protein intake is through protein powders. Here are some of the best protein powders for runners.

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Whey Protein

Whey protein is a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. It is a fast-digesting protein that is quickly absorbed by the body, making it an ideal choice for post-workout recovery. Whey protein has been shown to increase muscle mass and improve muscle strength (2), which can help improve running performance.

Recommended Whey Protein: Raw Organic Whey

This company is very transparent with their third party safety testing. This whey comes from grass-fed cows which may offer additional benefits. And, they have no added sweeteners to worry about, making it easy to flavor yourself with fruits and veggies in a smoothie or to stir into a milk alternative. 

Casein Protein

Casein protein is another type of milk protein, but it is slower digesting than whey protein. This makes it a good choice for a pre-bedtime protein supplement as it provides a slow release of amino acids throughout the night, helping to reduce muscle breakdown (3). Casein protein can also be beneficial for endurance athletes as it helps to maintain muscle mass during prolonged exercise.

Recommended casein protein: Now Sports Micellar Casein

This unflavored, unsweetened powder contains 19 grams of protein per serving and is great mixed into baked goods. Those who like a bedtime snack of cookies and milk, might enjoy mixing this protein into baked goods as it breaks down slowly, adding benefits for overnight muscle recovery. 

Soy Protein

Soy protein is a plant-based protein that is a good alternative for vegans or those with dairy allergies. Soy is a complete protein and contains all essential amino acids. It has been shown to have similar benefits to whey protein in terms of muscle building and recovery (4). Soy protein can also improve bone health (5), which can be beneficial for runners who are at risk of stress fractures.

Recommended soy protein: Now Sports Soy Protein Isolate

One serving of this powder contains 20 grams of protein. It only contains one ingredient so you don’t need to worry about sweeteners, but can easily mix it into whatever smoothie blends or baked goods you prefer. 

Pea Protein

Pea protein is another plant-based protein that is a good option for vegans or those with dairy allergies. It is a complete protein that contains all essential amino acids, and has been shown to be as effective as whey protein in promoting muscle growth and recovery (6). Pea protein is also easy to digest and has been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body (7).

Recommended pea protein: Naked Pea

This pea protein powder has only one ingredient, making it a good option for those avoiding artificial sweeteners and other additives that may upset your stomach, or those following a low FODMAP diet. 

Collagen Protein

Collagen protein is a unique protein that is made up of amino acids that support skin, joint, and bone health. It is not a complete protein, as it lacks the essential amino acid tryptophan, but it can still be a good addition to a runner’s diet. Collagen has been shown to reduce joint pain (8) and stiffness, which can be beneficial for runners who experience joint pain.

Recommended Collagen Powder: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, Unflavored

Vital Proteins unflavored collagen is my favorite because it truly is flavorless. I even get by with mixing it into herbal hot teas. Although, I would recommend drinking it before it cools. This collagen is paired with vitamin c and hyaluronic acid, but no other ingredients. 

Hemp Protein

Hemp protein is a plant-based protein that is derived from the seeds of the hemp plant. It is a complete protein that contains all essential amino acids, making it a great choice for vegans or those with dairy allergies (9). Hemp protein is also a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. Hemp protein is rich in fiber, which can help regulate digestion and promote satiety. It has been shown to be effective in promoting muscle growth and recovery. Hemp protein is easy to digest and is considered to be a hypoallergenic protein source.

Recommended Hemp Protein Powder: Hemp Yeah!

If you’re looking to try hemp protein, I’d recommend Hemp Yeah! Max Protein Unflavored powder. This powder contains 20 grams of protein per serving and has no artificial sweeteners or added sugars. It may not taste the best in plain water, but it is suggested to try it in fruit smoothies, oat milk, or baked goods. 


When choosing a protein powder, it’s important to look for a product that is free of added sugars, artificial flavors, and other additives. You should also choose a protein powder that has undergone third-party testing to ensure that it is safe and free of contaminants. With the right protein powder, runners can improve their recovery time, build muscle mass, and support their overall health and performance.

It’s also important to note that the body uses protein better when it is spread out throughout the day in about 20 gram servings. So, it isn’t helpful, and may even be harmful, to double the serving at one time. I’d recommend choosing a protein powder to supplement a well-balanced diet that includes other sources of protein like meat, fish, eggs, nut butters, beans, and dairy.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis. You should consult with your doctor before changing your diet or starting supplements for any health condition.

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