Protein is incredibly important. In fact, it accounts for 20% of our body weight and helps in the synthesis of hormones, enzymes, and vital cellular structures. Protein also helps us with fluid balance and with building antibodies that protect against infection. In short, without proper protein consumption, we would not survive. Many women stay away from protein, because of the many myths associated with it. Some fear that it may cause them to look too bulky, compromise bone health or may be hard on kidneys. However, these are nothing more than myths. It is important for women to add more protein to their diet for various reasons.
Signs that you need to start taking more protein
One of the first signs that you need more protein is that you start craving sweets and feel like you are never full. This happens because protein keeps your blood sugar steady. So, when you are lacking, the glucose levels go haywire, and you crave sweets.
Balanced blood sugar levels are essential for concentration. When you are protein-deprived, the glucose levels fluctuate constantly, and you may feel foggy.
Protein is the building block of all body cells including the hair follicles. Women, who constantly skimp on protein may experience hair thinning or hair loss.
Weakness and fatigue
Protein is essential for building muscle, and if you do not get enough of it, the muscles tend to shrink over time. This may make you feel weak, and fatigued all the time.
Protein not only builds muscles, but it also builds all components of the immune system. Lack of protein in the diet can cause recurrent colds and infections even if you are otherwise in good health.
Essential protein intake for women
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an essential dietary protein intake of 46 grams per day for women. However, it is important to note that his recommendation is for an average, semi-sedentary woman. If you are regularly exercising and breaking down your lean muscle tissue, you need to increase your protein intake. Similarly, if you consume fewer calories from fats and carbs, the macros you consume from protein should increase.
Reasons why women should add more protein to their diet
Lose weight and get slim
If you are trying to lose weight, protein can help achieve the results you are aiming for. Protein has a higher thermic effect compared to all other types of food, which means, the body has to work harder to metabolize it than to metabolize other types of food. Hence, you burn more calories. Protein has a thermic effect of food (TEF) of 20-35 percent. In other words, out of every 100 calories that you get from protein, 25-30 are burned in the digestion process.
A recent study shows that individuals who ate twice the recommended daily amount of protein, while reducing the overall calorie intake, lost more fat (70%) compared to those who did not increase their protein intake (41.8%). So, if you are looking for a lean, sculpted body, add more protein to your diet.
Maintain a lean body
You have worked hard and achieved your ideal weight, and you are feeling really happy about it. This does not mean you can go back to your old eating habits and treat yourself to ice creams and hamburgers. Protein is still important. Increasing protein intake can help maintain the lean muscle that you have worked so hard to achieve. When you are consuming fewer calories, adequate amounts of protein can help ensure that you stay lean and toned.
Also, when you consume more protein, your body releases more of peptide YY, which is your body’s own protein. This helps regulate appetite and keeps you from overeating.
Do you feel tired all day long after an hour of workout in the morning? This means, your body is not recovering well after the workout. Higher protein intake can help speedy recovery by promoting muscle adaptation during post-exercise recovery by promoting new protein generation in muscles, helping repair muscle muscles, and restoring depleted energy. By adding protein to your exercise routine, you can see immediate results in your recovery.
Protein can build and repair everything including your immune system. The antibodies are made of protein, so you need protein to build and maintain immunity and gut health. Moreover, the dietary sources of protein such as almonds and cashews contain other immune boosting nutrients such as magnesium and zinc. It is important to note that when it comes to boosting immunity, the best protein is whey protein. It contains glutathione, a tripeptide, which helps strengthen the immune system.
There is growing evidence that a protein rich diet plays a crucial role in health, and that eating healthy protein sources such as chicken, fish, nuts and beans in place of red meat and lower the risk of certain diseases and death. Research shows that a healthy diet that replaces some carbohydrate with healthy protein does a better job of lowering blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. However, consumption of red meat is associated with an increased risk of several illnesses including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, and others. Replacing red meat with other healthier protein sources can give a boost to overall health and prevent diseases.
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers need higher protein intake compared to average women. Experts recommend consuming around 60 grams of protein each day for the optimum development of the fetus. Protein aids in the development of baby’s organs and bones. A high protein diet also ensures that blood sugar levels are regulated.
In short, women need to add protein to their diet to get rid of fat, build lean muscles, recover fast from workouts, keep the immune system healthy, and prevent several diseases.