Protein: An Essential Macronutrient
Protein is an important macronutrient that women need in their diets for essential functions like repairing damaged tissues, building muscles, and producing important hormones, just to name a few…. but did you know that females also need protein in order to help with weight loss, and tone those muscles you’ve worked hard for in the gym?
The Harvard School of Public Health, along with the National Academy of Medicine, recommend that most females get 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight – so essentially, a woman who is 160 pounds should be getting a minimum of 58 grams of protein each day. Granted, these needs will vary depending on exercise levels and physical goals, but up to approximately 35% of your daily caloric intake can be from protein.
In regards to a macronutrient like protein, the differences between men and women when it comes to intake don’t differ much outside of the realm of body weight, like the above example. Athletes or women who are intensely into weightlifting typically need a bit more protein in their diet, but for the most part, ladies can base their protein levels off of their weight and corresponding exercise routine.
Exercise and Protein Intake
With that being said, physical activity plays a large part in just how much protein you need to consume – but how do you know how much you really need? According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, recommendations for protein consumption when participating in endurance exercise range from 1.0 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, depending on how intense your exercise, is as well as how long you’re doing it. In regards to weight lifting/strength training, recommendations range from 1.6 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. Depending on the demands placed on the body during physical activity, the protein range can fluctuate.
How Can You Obtain Enough Protein in Your Diet?
Protein can be obtained from sources like eggs, almonds, chicken, cottage cheese, lentils, and peanut butter, although these are only a small handful of options – it’s always a good idea to get this vital macronutrient from whole, nutrient-dense sources such as these….but what if you don’t have the time in your day for meal prep? Being aware of protein consumption is important, since the effects of a deficient amount of protein within your diet could be detrimental to your overall health. These negative health effects include decreases in muscle mass, hormone issues, a weaker heart (and weaker overall respiratory and cardiovascular systems), problems with hair and nails, weaker bones, and limited or stunted growth – just to name a few.
With busy schedules, hectic work hours, time in the gym, and shuttling kids from one place to another every day, it can be challenging to get the proper amount of needed protein in your diet. That’s where protein powder comes in! A popular supplement in today’s world, protein powder comes in many different forms (i.e. plant-based, dairy-based, etc.) and they can all have different tastes and other added nutritional values.
What Kinds of Protein Powders Are Available?
Thankfully with the many forms that protein powder comes in, you can more easily find one that suits your needs or preferences! Protein powder is typically broken down into the following forms:
this protein comes from milk, and is digested very quickly within the digestive system. Containing multiple amino acids that get absorbed and become a resource for new muscle growth, you might find that whey protein may also help enhance fat loss.
Who this is best for: those ladies looking to build strength and increase muscle mass with a milk-based product.
egg protein usually comes from the white of the egg, instead of the entire thing. Eggs are a powerhouse of protein, and can help you feel satisfied and full after eating. Interestingly, a study done with female athletes who consumed egg protein noticed comparable increases in muscle strength as those who consumed carbs, which is excellent news, especially for women who are looking for alternate forms of complete animal protein.
Who this is best for: women who are looking to increase strength and muscle mass, but have a dairy intolerance (in which case whey protein is not the way to go).
popular among women with dairy allergies or who are vegans, pea protein is made from split peas that are high in another important nutrient – fiber! Pea protein is absorbed slower than whey protein, but is full of vital amino acids that are essential for muscle growth.
Who this is best for: women who want to build muscle mass, but those who also might have allergic reactions to certain foods (pea protein is free of nuts, dairy products, soy, and wheat).
similar to whey protein, casein is also found in milk, but is absorbed much more slowly within the digestive system. With this decrease in absorption time comes a delay in those vital amino acids, which decreases the rate at which your body is actually going to break down and utilize protein. This in turn can help to encourage growth of muscle.
Who this is best for: ladies that want to build muscle, but need a better digested protein product – casein is broken down much more easily within the digestive tract. Also, casein tends to have more calcium than whey protein, if you’re monitoring your diet for that nutrient!
this type of protein can come from many different sources, including soy, peanuts, and dark leafy greens (like kale and broccoli). Since these aren’t complete proteins (minus soy), they are missing some essential amino acids that are necessary for muscle repair and growth, so it’s important to make sure your diet is well-rounded and supplemented in other ways in order to obtain all necessary amino acids.
Who this is best for: women who are vegans/vegetarians, or those are looking to reduce or eliminate animal products while still a getting adequate, high-quality protein source.
protein from brown rice is typically not utilized nearly as much nowadays as protein from whey sources, even though they’re full of all of the essential amino acids that your body needs!
Who this is best for: ladies that are looking for an alternative to milk based protein powders, or who are vegans/vegetarians.
sources of this protein come from skin and cartilage of animals, and the amino acids that are the foundation of collagen are what are needed to support the structure of our body; in this case, collagen keeps bones strong, and keeps skin, nails, and hair strong as well.
Who this is best for: women that are looking to nourish their skin, hair, nails, and bones and improving the health of their bones and joints!
10 Protein Powders For Women
There are so many different protein supplements out on the market today – how do you know which one works the best for the female body, and which one will provide you with high-quality performance? Over the long run, there really is no protein powder that is better for women than men – just pay close attention to the labels, and make sure the dosing is proper for you and your goals.
Here’s a list of 10 of the most popular protein powders reviewed, so that way you can have an idea of what to look for without scouring the internet for hours!
Whey Protein Powders
Found in fitness centers and stores all over the world, Optimum Nutrition has rocked the supplement community for many years! Elite athletes and regular gym-goers alike have relied on the products distributed by this company, and with the convenience of their supplements in forms like protein powder as well as bars and tablets, it’s no surprise! Compliance testing is done on all of Optimum Nutrition products, and the protein powder comes in more than thirty different flavors – so everyone can find one that they like!
Founded on the basis of education about sports nutrition, Klean Athlete protein powder is completely free of gluten and wheat in their products, and formulate their supplements without the use of artificial sweeteners or unnecessary coloring. With the flavoring choices of chocolate, vanilla, or unflavored, you know with this company you’re getting the essential ingredients needed for the body to be able to build muscle and repair tissues without any superfluous additives.
Not just for elite athletes and competitors, RSP was made by former college athletes that realized they needed a product that could keep people going – whether they were in the gym getting a workout in, or powering through a day at the office. Combining grass-fed whey protein with almost a third of women’s daily recommendations for fiber intake, this supplement contains lower carbohydrate counts than many other protein products, making it perfect as a one-stop supplement! Coming in flavors like chocolate and cinnamon churro, this sugar free protein powder can boost those nutrition goals and power you through your day!
Plant-Based Protein Powders
Orgain Organic Protein is a plant-based protein powder supplement, developed by a doctor who was on a mission to replace the artificial ingredient-filled protein shakes that he was given as a child with more nutritious, clean, and healthier products. That is how Orgain Clean came around! From starting in the kitchen with his mom to an organic company today, clean and wholesome nutrition is top priority for this company. You’ll find protein powders from this brand to be gluten and soy free, and also free of artificial colors and preservatives.
Developed by an athlete who was searching for healthy, plant-based options for recovery and performance, Vega Sport protein powder also includes items like shakes and bars to optimize your nutritional needs. With ingredients like tart cherry, dark greens, and fruits and vegetables, you can rest assured that this grain-free vegan protein powder supplement will meet your athletic needs – without compromising any of the nutritional value.
Protein Powders Produced in Multiple Forms
BodyLogix protein powders are focused around nutrition to improve performance with clean ingredients! Made specifically in a facility that doesn’t use any peanut products, BodyLogix touts ingredients that are also free from GMO’s and gluten. They’ve got a whey protein, a protein isolate, and a vegan protein, for those out there eliminating animal products. With flavors like snickerdoodle and caramel chocolate chip, BodyLogix protein supplements will have you building lean muscle without all the nasty additive ingredients!
Naked Nutrition is a popular protein supplement, due to the fact that they use pure ingredients in their products! With protein sources including whey protein, pea protein, and brown rice protein, Naked Nutrition lists all their clean ingredients square on the label, so you know exactly what you’re consuming. Their products include no artificial sweeteners, and come in multiple flavors so you can pick the one that you like the best! Transparency is key with Naked Nutrition, and premium ingredients are important here.
Garden of Life supplements base their products off of three things: the science of how what you eat impacts your health and wellness, clean ingredients (without all the chemicals added in), and the traceability of each and every one of their ingredients! With these three pillars combined, it sets the foundation for their entire product line to be non-GMO and organic. Protein supplements come in many forms through the Garden of Life, including plant-based forms, whey protein, and combinations of protein and greens. From bar forms to powders and shakes, you’re sure to find a protein source that fits into your daily routine – and one that doesn’t have any inorganic compounds or ingredients that you can’t pronounce!
Egg-White Protein Powder
As a dairy-free protein powder that is infused with probiotics, Paleo Thin is a completely 100% Paleo option for those eliminating grains and dairy from their diet. Made with protein from egg whites, this protein supplement is easy to digest and is also soy and GMO free. With flavors like natural chocolate, coconut, and blueberry – just to name a few! – this Paleo friendly protein powder option will be ideal to have on hand to help supplement your dietary needs.
The label might say collagen peptides, but don’t be fooled – this protein source from Vital Proteins is abundant within the body! Collagen protein differs from other protein forms like whey and plant-based sources, due to the fact that there is a higher amount of amino acids. This collagen protein comes from pasture and grass-fed cow hides, so you know you’re getting nothing but natural ingredients with this product! Not only will this protein help with structure of internal elements like tendons and bones, but it also helps keep hair, skin, and nails healthy.
Protein Consumption to Fuel Your Lifestyle
These ten popular protein supplements are just a few of the protein products that are out there on the market for women today – you’ll have to find the one that works best for you and your health and wellness goals. Based off recommendations from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, remember that in order to ensure growth of muscle and repair of tissue, protein sources – whether it’s through whole foods or a supplement – need to be consumed within an hour or two after exercise in order to reap the most bang for your buck!
Women (both athletes and regular gym-goers) will find benefits with protein supplementation, including building lean muscle mass, improving health of nails, hair, and skin, keeping your bones strong, and helping you stay full for longer. Take care of your body, and it will take care of you too!
Health Coach Drew
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