South Dakotans who understand the power of lean beef and are training for endurance events have a new support program thanks to the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC).

SDBIC has created South Dakota Team Beef, a program designed to bring together a community of runners and health enthusiasts who understand and believe in the nutritional benefits of lean beef and the vital role it plays in physical training, being healthy and staying active.

“Beef plays an important role in an overall healthful lifestyle, including weight control,” says Holly Swee, RD, LN and SDBIC director of nutrition and consumer information. “A substantial body of evidence shows the nutrients in lean beef, such as protein, iron and B-vitamins, help maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and fuel physical activity.”

SDBIC will sponsor up to 40 Team BEEF members in 2012. Participants will be provided science-based information about the power of lean beef in a healthy diet, as well as how cattle are being raised in a humane and sustainable manner by South Dakota producers. They will be able to share that information with others in the running community seeking advice on health and nutrition.

“Team BEEF members will be able to select from four SDBIC-sponsored races during the year,” says Swee, with funding available to assist participants with some of the registration fees. “Team BEEF members do not have to participate in all races,” she explains. “However, they are encouraged to stay active and promote the beef industry.” Sponsored races are: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon/Half Marathon (June 3); Beef and Eggs Road Race, Brookings (July 14); Andy’s Road Race, Huron (Sept. 1); and the Sioux Falls Marathon and Half Marathon (Sept. 9).

“This is an excellent opportunity for active South Dakotans to promote the message that lean beef is a nutrient powerhouse that helps athletes at all levels of activity ‘protein up’ to provide the fuel to finish in fewer calories than most other foods,” says Swee. “A 3-oz. serving of lean beef provides 154 calories, on average, and nearly 50% of the daily value for protein. What’s more, research shows that eating lean beef as part of a balanced diet and being physically active can help maintain a healthy weight.”

Beginning Feb. 13, you can visit www.sdbeef.org for more information about South Dakota Team BEEF, including registration to become a Team BEEF member.