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Why Women Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Eating Protein

Filed Under: Sports Nutrition,Supplements,Women's Health at 9:33 am | By: Guest Blogger

This post was provided by our friends at About Time and written by Devenee Schumacher.

Some women wonder about consuming substantial amounts of protein and/or using protein powders and protein supplements. Two of the most common comments I hear are, “Am I going to get bulky?” or “I don’t want to look manly.”

So, to address that, let’s talk about where proteins and protein powders come from, what types are available, and how they can be incorporated into your daily diet.

Protein Food Sources

Protein sources in food can be both animal-based or plant-based. Food-based proteins come from:

  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters
  • Animal meats
  • Tofu
  • Quinoa
  • Hemp
  • Kale
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Beans

Whey Protein

Dairy protein powders are a byproduct of cow’s milk. Typically, cheese farmers separate the curds and whey when making cheese. The whey portion is then separated into two types of whey proteins: whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate.

Whey protein isolate is the purest form of protein. It’s 90 percent or more protein with little or no fat, lactose or cholesterol.

Whey protein concentrate can range from 29 percent protein to 89 percent protein. Wondering what makes up the difference? Fat and lactose. So, when buying supplements, it’s important to know what you’re buying and how to choose what fits your personal macronutrients. (Macronutrient is a fancy word for your daily intake of proteins, carbohydrates and fat.)

Plant-Based Protein

Plant-based protein powders are byproducts of vegetables and grains. Whether you are completely vegan, looking to lower your carbon footprint or have issues digesting dairy, plant-based options can up your protein intake. Some of the best choices are pea isolate protein, hemp protein powder and quinoa protein powder.

Why We Need Protein

Our bodies are made of 18 percent to 20 percent protein in our skin, muscles and connective tissue. They need protein to heal, grow and carry out every function we do daily—from walking and bending over to pick something up off the floor to breathing, sweating, blinking your eyelids and, better yet, pumping blood throughout your body. Many people forget what it is that makes the human body work. You need to consume your macronutrients to have your body work at its fullest extent.

Since our bodies can’t store protein, it’s needed often. Eating enough protein is essential to build and maintain healthy muscle mass while in conjunction supporting ligaments, tendons and other bodily tissue. Our bodies require nine essential amino acids, which we need to get from food because our bodies can’t make them. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When we lack in amino acids, skeletal muscle atrophy can take place. This can simply be reversed with adding in exercise and proper nutrition.

Daily Protein Intake

Consuming protein in every meal is not only healthy but ideal to keep our bodies moving. Here are some examples that contain 25 grams of protein:

  • 3 cups quinoa
  • 6 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 ¾ cups black beans
  • 1 ½ cups edamame
  • 3 ounces lean beef
  • 1 scoop whey isolate protein

Knowing how much protein to eat each day really comes down to each individual. Industry standards state that average intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For example, a 130-pound woman needs 48 grams of protein per day.

This basic standard doesn’t consider women’s activity level or if they are pregnant. Here’s a simple math problem to figure out your needs: Take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2 to figure out your weight in kilograms. Then multiply that number by 0.8 (not very active), 1.3 (active or pregnant), or 1.8 (extremely active), depending on how much exercise you get.

Here are some guidelines to determine your level of activity:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise)
  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days per week)
  • Moderately active (moderate activity/sports 3-5 days per week)
  • Extremely active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days per week)

Plant-Based Smoothie

Hopefully this protein breakdown helps you get on the right foot and understand that protein is your friend. Get started by enjoying a bowl of Greek yogurt mixed with a little nut butter and honey, or make a plant-based smoothie. Here’s all you need:

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 scoop plant-based protein
  • ½ cup mango
  • ½ small avocado
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 3 mint leaves

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