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How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

Protein is an essential component in the muscle building process, but many women try to stay away from the sufficient protein consumption, even though hormones, enzymes, muscles and also immune system – every cell in the body contains proteins. As you probably know, you should add more protein to your diet. So how many proteins should women take?

There are many different opinions and statement about the amount of protein needed to get in shape, maintain a slim line or a strong body. The recommended daily intake (RDA) of protein is 0,8 gram per body weight kilogram, or about 0,35 gram per body weight pound.

RDA refers to the amount of nutrients you need to consume to meet your nutritional requirements. We could say it is the minimal amount needed to stay healthy – but it is not the specific amount you consume every day. [1]

However, if you regularly lift weights, you can doubt this RDA. But enough doubts, let’s start to learn more about it.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

We will describe the situation that has been already experienced by every woman, in order to get you more into the problem. After one week of hard workouts and clean eating, plates full of broccoli, brown rice and chicken breasts, you feel an uncontrollable desire to eat something that is not included in your meal plan. You have weighed all your meals, but you would still die for a scoop of ice cream or a pasta plate. Why?

According to the study published in International Journal of Eating Disorders [2], women are more likely to crave sweet food, such as chocolate, ice cream or donuts. On the other side, men prefer tasty steaks. It probably looks like women have a protein deficiency in their diet, especially active women.

Your body needs carbohydrates and healthy fats for energy, while proteins are essential for muscle tissue growth and regeneration. If you train hard in the gym and perform exercises like squats and romanian deadlifts, your body may not be able to recover and grow due to the lack of protein in your diet.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

IMPORTANCE OF PROTEINS

There are many reasons why you should add more proteins to your diet. Proteins are made of 20 amino acids, 9 of them are essential. “Essential” means that your body can not produce them by itself, so the only way how to get them is your diet. Proteins from your diet supply muscle tissue building blocks and also supply material needed for neurotransmitters and hormones.

Every time you train, your muscle tissues break down. In fact, you build them out of the gym, but your body needs enough fuel to do it. Amino acids, from sufficient protein intake, arrive to rescue damaged muscles and repair muscle tissues, so they can become stronger and grow again.

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Protein stabilize energy levels and appetit

If you are constantly hungry throughout the day, you probably do not get enough protein in every meal. Your body break down and digest proteins longer.

This slow digestion time means that you feel satiety longer and this can help you to maintain your calorie intake to maintain body weight.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

Proteins help burn calories more efficiently

Proteins have the highest thermic effect of food (TEF), which is the amount of calories taken by your body to process and use all the nutrients. Your body actually uses about 20 to 35% of the energy consumed in proteins for digestion and absorption. If you consume 100 calories from protein, 25 to 30 calories are burned when digesting.

Your body uses more energy to process protein than to digest carbohydrates and fats. That means that people, who consume more protein during the day, may experience faster body fat loss than people, who follow meal plan with a lower amount of protein.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

Proteins to prevent loss in muscle mass

If you reduce your calorie intake and lower the amount of carbohydrates and fats in your diet, your body is more likely to use proteins as a source of energy and you will have less proteins for other different body functions.

If you do not consume enough amino acids in a sufficient amount, your body will start to break down muscle fibers to obtain individual amino acids. This can mean the loss of your muscle mass and slowing down your metabolism. However, it can be prevented by regular protein intake.

Proteins support the immune system

Adding whey protein to your diet will give you definitely more than only muscle strength. It will also support your immune system. Whey protein contains glutathione and tripeptide that help to boost immunity. [3]

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

Myths about proteins

Women usually believe these myths and it is one of the reasons why they avoid proteins. Do not let these rumors stop you from your muscle mass growth goal. 

Proteins will make you look bulky

Proteins make you stronger. It is associated with muscle growth, not with a masculine figure. Eating chicken breasts instead of chocolate or lifting weights will not make you a male version.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

Ladies, your body contains only the fraction of testosterone needed to build muscles. Even if you add more protein to your diet, you will not gain as much muscles as men usually do. Your body can only produce a certain amount of muscle mass per day. Excess proteins will not cause muscle growth. This excess protein will be broke down into amino acids to be used as a fuel or eliminated, so do not worry about this myth.

High protein diet is not good for your kidneys

If you have some kidney problems, you should definitely be more careful when adding proteins to your diet. But if you are an active women with good health, you can safely increase your protein intake. However, remember that increased protein intake may dehydrate you, so you should also increase fluid intake.

High protein diet damages bone health 

There is no definite proof that high protein diet causes an excess of acid, that is associated with bone loss and poor health.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

In fact, study by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found, that high protein diet had small but significant benefits for the lumbar spine. [4]

HOW MANY PROTEINS DO WOMEN NEED?

How many proteins do you need? Suggested numbers vary in different sources. According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the standard recommendation for the average individual is approximately 46 grams per day for woman and 65 grams per day for man. [5]

Keep in mind that this is the recommended daily intake for people living the sedentary lifestyle. If you exercise and stress your muscle tissues, you should definitely increase protein intake. In addition, if you are on a diet and eat less calories from carbohydrates and fats, the amount of proteins needs to be increased.

People, who only exercise and are not on a diet should consume approximately 0,8 – 1 gram of protein per 0,45-0,5 kilogram per day. If you are on a diet and exercise on a regular basis, you should consume 1 to 1,5 grams of protein per 0,45 – 0,5 kilogram per day. If your calories intake decreases, it is needed to increase your protein intake. Keep this in mind when preparing for a diet.

Focus on cosuming high quality protein sources, such as chicken, fish, red meat, eggs, low fat diary products and high quality whey protein.

How proteins influence body fat distribution of training women

There is very interesting research that was made at the Physique Enhancement Laboratory at University of South Florida. They studied the effects of different amounts of protein on body composition and endurance of training women. [6]

There were two groups of women who performed a strength training plan and a periodic resistant training plan for 8 weeks. That plan consisted of two parts: two training days focused on the upper body and two training days focused on the lower part. One group of women followed high protein diet and the other group followed low protein diet.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

The group, that followed high protein diet, consumed 1,1 grams of protein per pound of body weight, including 25 grams of whey protein before and after each workout. The other group, that followed low protein diet, consumed 0,55 grams of protein per pound of body weight, including 5 grams of whey protein immediately before and after training. Participants were supposed to consume a certain amount of protein every day, but they were also allowed to eat as much carbohydrates and fats as they wanted.

There were some results reported at the end of the study. Women who consumed more protein gained significantly more muscle mass (about 2,8 kg) than women who consumed less protein (0,68 kg). The group that consumed more protein lost even more body fat that the other group that consumed lower amount of protein, although this change did not reach any significance.

What is the strength of proteins according to the study?

These results may not be shocking, but confirm what we already know: if women, especially those with high-intensity trainings, consume higher amount of proteins, they are more likely to gain more muscle than women who consume less proteins.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

However, following fact may surprise you. Women in the higher protein intake group consumed additional 423 calories of protein daily. Therefore, we could assume that someone who consumes an additional 400 to 500 calories a day for eight weeks will easily gain more body fat, but it did not happen in this study.

Women in the high protein group lost more body fat than women in the lower protein group, even though they consumed more calories! Specifically, the higher protein intake group lost 1,08 kilogram of fat. Second group lost only 0,77 kilogram.

This was the first study in which only training women were involved. However, we have also seen similar results from some other studies, that involved men or a combination of men and women. Another research from Nova South Eastern University has shown that daily consumption of additional 500 to 750 calories from protein did not increase body fat.  [7],[8] However,  these participants who consumed higher amount of proteins did not see such significant changes as in the previous study.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

As we think about results of these studies, they may mean that women actually respond better to the higher protein intake than men do, when we talk about muscle mass increasing. However, this is just a theory that needs to be confirmed by further research.

Weight is not as important 

You probably heard the statement “Do not worry about what your weight is”. And now you have a good reason to agree with this statement. If body weight was monitored in a previous study, women in the higher protein group would realize that they have gained about 0,9 kilograms. We do not need to say what a depressing feeling it might be.

How many proteins do women need for weight loss and muscle growth?

However, this study was made by the experts and scientists who evaluated body composition, not only body weight. They found that a higher protein intake group gained more muscles and lost more fat than a lower protein intake group – so the results will not only be shown by standing on the weight scale.

So before we focus on a single number, look at the changes – fat loss and muscle mass gain. If you find that your weight has risen, but fat percentage has dropped, you know you did something right! It is a great idea to take pictures of your progress and start thinking about how you feel in your clothes and how your energy levels change in the gym.

Final words

If your main goal is to gain muscles and lose body fat, you certainly see an advantage in the following high protein diet and training plan. So, what is our recommendation? Women should consume about 2 grams of high quality protein per 1 kilogram of body weight in purpose to improve body composition and maximize recovery. So take a fork and the shaker with protein – or at least add some chicken breasts to the salad!

Ladies, what about you and proteins? Share your experience in the comments below. If you liked this article, support it and share it.

Sources:

[1] How much protein do you need every day? Zverejnené v Harvard Health Publications 18.6.2015, dostupné – online

[2] Lafay L, Thomas F, Mennen L, Charles MA, Eschwege E, Borys JM, Basdevant A; Fleurbaix Laventie Ville Santé Study Group. Gender differences in the relation between food cravings and mood in an adult community. 2001. – online.

[3] Richie JP Jr. The role of glutathione in aging and cancer. 1992. – online.

[4] Darling AL, Millward DJ, Torgerson DJ, Hewitt CE, Lanham-New SA. Dietary protein and bone health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 2009. – online.

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. – online.

[6] Campbell B, Aguilar D, Vargas A, Conlin A, Sanders A, Fink-Irizarry P, Norton L, Perry R, McCallum R, Wynn MR, and Lenton J. Effects of a high (2.4 g/kg) vs. low/moderate (1.2 g/kg) protein intake on body composition in aspiring female physique athletes engaging in an 8-week resistance training program. 2016.

[7] Antonio J, Peacock C.A., Ellerbroek A., Fromhoff B., Silver T. The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(39). 2014. – online.

[8] Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Orris, S., Scheiner, M., Gonzalez, A., & Peacock, C.A. A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women-a follow-up investigation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 1. 2015. – online.