Runners can’t thrive on carbs alone. Protein helps build and preserve lean body mass (a key factor in injury prevention and nailing PRs), reduces run-induced muscle damage, and supports your immune system. Picking and prepping protein can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark; the supermarket is full of an overwhelming amount of protein choices, from lean meat to red meat to no meat. The dizzying array of beef cuts alone is enough to leave you feeling more anxious than on a marathon starting line.
If you’re ready to take your repertoire beyond the Mrs. Dash’s–dusted chicken breast in your weekly meal plan, this guide will get you better acquainted with six protein-packed foods that score big for flavor, cost, and nutrition. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know for each one, from how to buy the best to how to cook it like a top chef, be it for a quick weeknight dinner or special date night.