Protein is so important for women when it comes to health, weight loss, mood, beauty, and…everything! This post will explore 8 reasons why women need to eat more protein and share the best sources of protein, too!
I can’t overstate how important protein is for women.
But I also I know protein can be a tricky topic for some: how much is too much, am I getting enough, and how do I get the best protein sources?
A good place to begin is remembering that whole foods should always be the primary source of adding any nutrient to your diet. So if you’re goal is more protein, be aware that store-bought protein bars and overly processed protein powders are not the ideal ways to bump up your protein intake.
Instead, try finding your protein in poultry, fish, lean meats, and vegan foods. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about these foods below!
I’ve done some research and looked at reputable and scientific sources to find you the best information on why women, specifically, need to eat more protein. Let’s take a look!
What Is Protein?
If you’ve read my post on how to calculate your macros, you’ll know that protein is one of three macronutrients:
- Carbs: Carbs fuel the body
- Fat: Fat helps you to feel full
- Protein: Protein builds and repairs muscle
In the post and in my video on macros, I explain that macros make up the calories you eat. It’s essential to make sure that you have the proper balance of carbs, fat, and protein in your day.
Protein does a lot for us! It gives us enzymes to digest food, helps maintain our immune system, gives us energy, and aids in bone and muscle development.
And if you really like to learn the science behind things, read about the essential amino acids you get from protein (the all-important building blocks) in my post about vegan protein substitutes. Yes, vegans can get their protein requirements easily if they know what to eat! This post on pea protein explains amino acids, too.
Should I Eat Protein Every Day?
Definitely yes, you should eat protein every day. You must, in fact! I personally target 150 grams of protein every day. This is based on my body weight, active lifestyle, and fitness goals.
But if you are not exercising that much (I workout a lot and you can, too if you want to—see how here), your protein needs will be lower.
How Much Protein Do Women Need?
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein as discussed at a Washington protein summit is 0.8g / kg of bodyweight. This was based on adults 19 years of age. In my video, I state 0.7g, and the number does range based on your lifestyle and activity level. Basically, to calculate how many grams of protein you need per day, simply multiply your weight by 0.36. If you weigh 145lbs, you should eat at least 52 grams of protein per day.
- 3 ounces of chicken is 28 grams of protein
- 3 ounces of steak is 26 grams
- 6 ounces of Greek yogurt is 18 grams
- 1 ounce of soy nuts is 12 grams
As you can see, it’s not that difficult to reach your RDA. Each gram of protein you eat provides about 4 calories of energy. That’s a good example of why women need more protein, to give you the energy you need to get things done!
Tip: To add more protein to your plate, increase the size of the chicken breast on your plate and decrease the other portions somewhat to compensate. Snacking on a protein shake with a good quality protein powder (I like Naked Nutrition) is a delicious way to add a serving of protein to your day.
Should you worry about eating too much protein? The average person really would have to eat a lot to overdo it. But, if you do go overboard and forget to balance your diet out with other nutrients you may see these signs:
- Bad breath
- Weight gain
People who consume dangerous levels of protein may experience kidney and liver stress and damage.
Why Is Protein Important For Women?
Protein is an important source of the amino acids needed to keep our bodies healthy. What do these amino acids do?
- Prevent fat accumulation in the liver
- Reduce cholesterol
- Reduce muscle damage and breakdown
- Strengthen bones, hair, skin, and nails
- Aid in the formation of hemoglobin
- Heal the bones
- Enhance learning
Signs You Are Lacking Protein
One of the reasons women need protein is to prevent bone loss as we age. Because protein aids in bone strength too, just like calcium and Vitamin D. I’ll discuss other reasons for boosting your protein intake below in the 8 benefits of protein section. But to ensure you are eating enough protein, watch for these signs that you are not getting enough:
- Wounds are slow to repair and heal
- Your hands and feet are swollen
- You are moody
- You are weak or extra-fatigued
- You are often hungry
- Your hair and nails are brittle and your skin is flaky
- You get sick often and stay sick longer than you used to
What Are The Best Sources Of Protein?
The great thing about adding protein to your diet is that it’s not hard to do! So many awesome foods are protein sources. Take a look:
What about protein powder?
I’d like to mention protein powders again, too. If you use a high-quality protein powder with little processing and additives, you’ll benefit from an easy way to add protein. To learn more:
- The 4 Best Protein Powders and How to Choose a Good One
- Protein Powder as a Flour Substitute
- Pea Protein vs Whey Protein: Which is Better?
- 9 Awesome Benefits of Pea Protein + Why It’s Quickly Becoming My Favorite Protein
8 BENEFITS OF PROTEIN FOR WOMEN
In my video Why WOMEN Need to EAT MORE PROTEIN, I cover 5 of the amazing benefits of protein. I’ll explain those and a few more below:
1. Protein Maintains Lean Muscle Mass
Women benefit from a toned body when they exercise but also when they make sure they are getting enough protein. Studies show that muscle mass is increased with adequate protein in the diet. Not only that, but protein also helps to preserve muscle mass, and aids in preventing age-related muscle loss. Eating lots of protein also brings a better response from the muscles when used. If you are trying to lose weight, it’s important to keep up your protein intake, too. It’s been proven that increased protein helps prevent the loss of lean muscle when dropping pounds.
2. Protein Is Great For The Hair, Nails, And Skin
Keratin is a structural protein that forms our hair, nails, and skin. The best way to get keratin is naturally. Keratin is made of protein, actually and that is why it’s beneficial to eat protein for healthy hair, nails, and skin. Rather than buying products to improve your hair (and all after the fact), work from the inside out. Consume the protein instead!
3. Protein Tastes Good
No matter what meal you choose to make, adding protein makes it taste better and gives you a satisfying feeling. Think about a delicious smoothie, for instance. Adding protein powder gives that shake more flavor and substance. I’ve written a post all about protein powders, explaining how your muscles, hormone function, and more benefit from adding protein powder. Take a look for more info on protein! Tons of foods make the satisfying protein list, such as eggs, cottage cheese, and nut butter.
Don’t just think of animal-based proteins either, especially if you prefer a plant-based diet. It’s easy to get your protein requirements from sources like pea protein, chickpeas, and nuts, among other tasty foods.
4. Protein Stops Hunger
Want to feel energetic and ready to go? Add more protein to your meals. Protein stops hunger so that you are not reaching for snacks all the time (which usually translates to unhealthy foods). Too many carbs and fats without adequate protein just don’t do the trick to sate your hunger. Studies show that protein filled dairy products, take Greek yogurt as an example, help stop hunger, improve body composition, and keep you full.
5. Protein Gives You Strong Bones
Eating protein throughout your life aids in strong bones. And not only that, it sets the stage for better bone health as we age. To prevent conditions like osteoporosis, calcium, Vitamin D, and dietary protein are essential. After menopause, bone mass density decreases in women. So it is especially apparent that women need to eat more protein—to keep their bones in tip-top shape.
6. Protein Reduces Cravings
Everyone wants help with cravings, right? First off, when I have a craving for a snack, I head to my fave high protein snack items (which include energy bites, cheese, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and protein fruit smoothies). You see, not only does the body get hungry, but the brain starts to seek out some satisfaction. Keep these thoughts from sneaking in by fueling the body with protein.
7. Protein Aids In Fat Burning
Why should women eat more protein? To burn fat and build muscle! Eating protein boosts your metabolism. Have you ever heard about NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)? Take a look at my post for easy to understand information on increasing your metabolism. It ties in with what I am saying here, and how your body burns fat. Protein has a higher thermic effect than the other macronutrients carbs and fat.
8. Protein Is Good For Your Blood Pressure
Proteins are a boon for healthy blood pressure levels. Interestingly, one review of observational studies stated that plant protein had the best effect on blood pressure levels. Good sources of protein other than meat, chicken, and fish, are buckwheat, black beans, and quinoa.
Easy High Protein Recipes
At this point I hope you are ready to eat MORE protein! In the selection below, I’ve pulled some delicious and easy ways to add protein to your day. Enjoy!
- Banana Protein Shake
- High Protein Bowl With Cashew Lime Crema
- Protein Pancakes
- Protein Bars
- Blueberry Muffin Protein Smoothie
- Peanut Butter Protein Cookies
- Sweet Potato and Lentil Hash With Garlic Sauteed Kale
- Steak Cobb Salad With Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing
This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.