As a woman, how much protein should you be eating?
There is a topic in women’s health that I’m really passionate about because it is integral to live a healthy life - but it’s also one that is often misrepresented and misunderstood.
I’m talking about PROTEIN.
So, let’s start at the beginning. Protein, what is it?
There are three macronutrients, one being protein and the other two being carbohydrates and fats. I’m going to be focusing on protein in this post because I’m a bit bias when it comes to macronutrients, although they all play important roles in our health and our dietary intake of all three macronutrients need to be balanced.
Protein is made up of amino acids.
They are our bodies' building blocks and what our DNA is made from.
They are essential for life!!
They are essential for the growth and repair of our muscles, organs, bones, skin, hair, and nails as well as the many body functions it must perform daily. Some amino acids are essential, meaning they need to come from your diet, and some are non-essential which means they can be made by your body.
Therefore, eating a high-quality protein rich diet is important for women as around half of the amino acids need to come from what you’re eating. Amino acids from protein aren’t stored in the body in huge quantities, so they need to be replenished through a high-quality protein rich diet at every meal to maintain adequate:
Hormone production and regulation.
A regulated metabolism.
Mental health and energy.
So, what is the average amount of protein that women need per day?
The estimated intake of high-quality protein is between 1 gram to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, depending on your activity level. Women who have a sit-down job and walking daily would be aiming for a 1 gram/kg amount and women weight training or an athlete would be aiming for a 2 gram/kg amount of high-quality protein.
This is how you can calculate your daily intake of protein for yourself:
Your weight x 1 gram of protein = grams of protein per day.
(Note: use the calculation with the correct grams needed for your current activity level, like 1.5 or 2 grams. This is not the actual weight of the protein source but how much protein it contains.)
As an example, a 70-kilogram woman that gently walks daily should have approximately 70 grams of protein per day. To break it down that’s approximately 25 grams of protein per meal.
Yes! Every meal you need to include a protein source.
So, what does 25 grams of protein in a meal look like?
100 grams Lean red meat with lightly steamed greens and sweet potato mash.
200 grams Marinated tofu with salad and topped with 2tbsp of hemp seeds.
3 Eggs on quinoa toast with cooked spinach, tomato and 100 grams of mushrooms.
Whether it’s vegan, vegetarian or animal sources maintaining a constant supply of high-quality protein in your diet is essential for women to maintain homeostasis (balance) in your body and as you can see it’s important. Along with the right amount of carbohydrates and fats.
When I’m working with clients, I always create individualised treatment plans and eating strategies that are achievable for your current lifestyle, but we do need to be mindful of scientific guidelines of what your body needs to provide you with optimal health.
The next step is to not overwhelm yourself or your body with huge changes all at once, so if you have a way to go before you reach your optimal amount of protein intake per day, start with adding a small amount of extra protein into breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The more you use this calculation to work out how much protein you need per day the easier it becomes - so stick around and practice, I promise you’ll be a protein expert in no time!
If this post has sparked a question for you, please send me a message or leave a comment.
To your health and wellness
BHSc Naturopathy, CCL Massage & Beauty Therapy, Cert III Fitness
Australian Government Nutrient Reference Values, (2014). Macronutrient balance. https://www.nrv.gov.au/chronic-disease/macronutrient-balance