Ladies, admit it. You feel an uncontrollable urge to stray from your carefully laid out meal plan after week of rigorous exercise and dieting, and ice cream, donuts, and chocolate beckon you to pay them your undivided attention. This craving is in fact, very common for women all around the globe. Women seem to lack protein in their diets, even when it comes to cheat meals. A lack of protein can be problematic for anyone, but it’s especially troubling for women in the gym.
Many women shy away from consuming enough protein, which is an essential component of the muscle-building process, over concerns that it will bulk them up, and other myths surrounding it. While men prefer to sink their teeth into a well-marbled porterhouse, women tend to crave sugary snacks according to the study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. While your body needs carbs and healthy fats for energy, protein is essential for tissue growth and repair. A lack of protein in your diet can hinder your body’s ability to recover and grow.
First off, let’s discuss the myths, burst through them, and truly discover the myriad powers of protein!
MYTHS ABOUT PROTEIN
One of the reasons that some women stray away from protein to get maximum results is because they believe the myths. You might have heard them before, but bear in mind that these false rumors cost you gains. It’s time to clear up the confusion by separating fact from fiction.
Myth 1: Protein Will Cause You Too Look Bulky
According to studies, protein will not add bulk to women. This is because women do not have the hormones that encourage the growth of large, padded muscles like men. Ladies, remember that your body contains just a fraction of the testosterone needed to build up lean muscle tissue. Even with the addition of protein, you’re not going to pack on muscle the same way your male counterpart might. Choosing chicken over chocolate and hitting the weights hard won’t turn you into an “overly ripped” version of yourself.
Associate it with powerful, lean muscle gains, not a masculine physique. Your body can also only make so much lean muscle per day. Excess protein won’t necessarily increase your muscular development. Excess protein gets broken into amino acids to be used as fuel or excreted. Put your mind at ease and know that this myth simply won’t occur.
Myth 2: A Higher-Protein Diet Is Hard On Your Kidneys
If you’re an active woman in good health, you can safely increase your protein intake. If you have pre-existing kidney problems, then you definitely want to be a little more careful about adding protein to your diet plan. Still, protein is very safe for women. You’ll want to increase your water consumption at the same time since increased protein consumption can be dehydrating.
Myth 3: Higher-Protein Diets Compromise Bone Health
There has never been a definitive proof that high-protein diets cause the excess acid load that’s been linked to bone loss and poor health. As a matter of fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studies found that high-protein diets had a small but significant benefit to the lumbar spine.
THE POWERS OF PROTEIN
The necessity of adding protein to your diet plan can never be overstated. Of the 20 amino acids that make up protein, nine are essential. “Essential” means that your body can’t manufacture these amino on its own. The only way they can be consumed is through food. Dietary protein supplies the building blocks of muscle tissue. It also supplies the materials needed for neurotransmitters and hormones.
You break your muscle tissues down every time you work out. With proper protein intake, amino acids come to the rescue of your damaged muscle, repairing those tissues so they grow back even stronger. Protein serves as the fuel to build them up.
Protein packs a plethora of benefits to the hard- working, fit female.
Protein Helps You Burn Calories More Effectively
Protein has the highest thermic effect of food (TEF), which is the amount of calories it takes your body to process and utilize a nutrient. At 20-35 percent, protein has the highest TEF. This means that out of every 100 calories you get from protein, your body actually burns 20-35 of the energy just to digest and absorb it!
People who consume more protein throughout the day might see faster fat-loss results than people on a lower-protein diet plan, since your body expends more energy to process proteins than it does to digest carbohydrates and fats.
Protein Stabilizes Your Energy Levels and Appetite
Protein takes longer to break down and digest compared to carbohydrates. If you’re constantly ravenous throughout the day, it’s most probably because you’re not eating enough protein at every meal.
This slow digestion time aids in helping to keep hunger pangs down for individuals who use it for weight loss. Not only does it help create a feeling of fullness, but it also helps keep cravings down and promotes a feeling of satiety, making it even easier to hit your caloric intake and macros for bodyweight maintenance.
Protein Boosts Your Immune System
If you choose to add whey protein powder to your diet, you’ll be taking in more than muscle-building strength gains. Added to this is an immune boost!
Whey protein contains glutathione, a tripeptide and a key antioxidant, which is essential in keeping your immune system healthy. Because of this, whey protein promotes a healthy immune system and strengthen its function.
Protein Safeguards Against Muscle Loss
Less protein is left for various bodily functions, once your body turns to incoming protein for energy as your caloric intake drops and carbohydrates and fats become scarce on a strict diet. If insufficient amino acids are present, your body will start breaking down muscle tissue to get individual aminos. This could mean a loss in muscle and a slower resting metabolism.
You can protect against this by prioritizing protein. The essential amino acids in whey protein, such as leucine, can help keep lean muscle, but does so while still promoting fat reduction. Because of whey protein’s high content of essential amino acids and protein, women will build more muscle, which leads to a faster metabolism.
YOUR ESSENTIAL PROTEIN INTAKE
The standard food guide recommendation for the average individual is set around 46 grams per day for women and 65 grams per day for men according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, this is the recommendation for the average, semi-sedentary individual. Your required protein intake needs to increase if you’re constantly exercising and breaking down lean muscle tissue. Likewise, if you diet and consume fewer calories from carbs and fats, the macros you consume from protein will need to increase.
If you’re dieting and exercising, aim higher—between 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of your bodyweight per day. People who just exercise and do not diet should aim to consume somewhere around 0.8-1 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Focus on eating high-quality protein sources such as chicken, fish, lean red meat, eggs, low-fat dairy products, and quality whey protein powder.
As your caloric intake decreases, your protein needs will actually increase, so keep that in mind as you plan out your diet.