How Much Protein Should A Woman Eat To Gain Muscle?
How much protein should a woman eat to gain muscle? This is a rather common question because women’s fitness and muscle gain needs are different from men’s.
However, there are female bodybuilders aiming for massive muscle gains who want to lose fat and look lean as well.
This article provides helpful information on women’s protein intake and muscle gain. So, keep reading to understand how much protein you should be consuming as a woman and the dangers of not eating enough proteins.
What Are Proteins?
Proteins are one of three essential macronutrients responsible for supplying energy to our bodies. The other two are carbohydrates and fats.
Proteins mainly take care of the cells and all the activities that happen inside them. When it comes to the accurate structuring and functioning of your tissues and organs, proteins are necessary for regulating these functions.
Typically, proteins consist of amino acids, which are very important for the proper functioning of your body. They also function as the building blocks of the body’s tissues.
Why Is Protein Important?
Protein plays many vital roles in the body. Some of the main reasons the micronutrient is important to your body include the following:
- It supports your nervous system, muscles, skin, hair, and other organs, including your body tissues. Also, it helps to transport other important compounds like oxygen, fats, vitamins, and minerals throughout the body.
- It is a source of food for weight management. This is because protein-rich foods don’t digest very quickly. This means they can keep you less hungry or make you feel full for a longer period. When you consume foods high in protein for breakfast, it reduces your craving for junk food for the rest of the day.
- Proteins help to build up lean muscles. This is why bodybuilders prefer to take proteins. When you consume protein-rich foods and combine that with adequate workouts, it can help you bulk up. And although proteins are necessary for building muscle, they are mostly responsible for strengthening already existing ones.
- Protein helps women to develop the slender, lean, and tight muscles that many women desire.
- Protein-rich foods are also useful for building a healthy immune system. These types of foods can keep you strong because they help your immune system to work perfectly in fighting against any unwanted bodies that can pose a threat to your body.
- Protein helps to support your bones and nails. It also promotes hair growth and stronger bones. Bone health and density are important, especially as women grow older. Eating enough protein foods will keep your bones strong and reduce density loss associated with aging.
Optimal Protein Intake for Women
The amount of protein a woman needs depends on a few different factors. If you are working with the official Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein intake, you may not meet up with your body’s protein needs.
According to the RDA, a typical woman will need to consume about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This comes to approximately 48 grams of protein in a day for women. This is merely 10 percent of your daily calories intake.
If you stick with this recommendation, it means you will have to get a large percentage of your calories from carbohydrates and fat.
While this may work for someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle, it is not an ideal way to live.
A good way to be sure you are taking adequate amounts of protein is by ensuring there are enough grams of protein in the foods you consume daily.
Aim for a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but it is usually best to consume more protein if you are an active woman.
For active women, consuming around 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is a generally good rule of thumb.
Here’s an example using the above guideline. Eating about 80 to 136 grams of protein per day should be ideal for women who weigh around 150 pounds.
However, 136 grams is a very high range and it is only suggested for women who are into serious strength training. If you are not a serious athlete or planning for some sort of fitness competition, it is best to maintain the lower end of the suggested range.
In any case, it is not advisable to maintain the high end of the guideline (136 grams of protein for women weighing around 150 pounds) for too long.
Benefits of Protein Intake for Women
Apart from understanding how much protein should a woman eat to gain muscle, there are other benefits of consuming the right amounts of protein.
- Optimal protein intake for women can take their muscle mass and strength to their highest capacity.
- Consuming the right amounts of protein per day helps you to control cravings for late-night snacking, which can lead to being overweight. Since cravings are very difficult to control, it will be wise to prevent them from occurring ahead of time. Increasing your protein intake will help you tackle this problem.
- It can lower your blood pressure, which is a good thing for those with high blood pressure.
- A high-protein intake can reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.
- Another importance of optimal protein intake is that it helps you stay fit as you age. Eating more protein is important if you want to reduce age-related muscle deterioration and also prevent sarcopenia.
Dangers of Not Taking Enough Protein
You do not always need to count grams of protein. That may not be practical in some cases, and it can even become cumbersome.
Counting protein grams is only necessary if you have a fitness goal or you are working on your weight.
There are other ways you can tell if you are not taking enough protein. These include:
- Falling sick too frequently or staying sick longer than necessary.
- When your wound takes too much time to heal.
- Experiencing fatigue and weakness too often.
- Excessive moodiness.
- Getting hungry too quickly.
- Damaged hair, nails, and flaky skin.
- Having swollen feet or hands (edema)
Can Women Consume Too Much Protein?
Consuming protein can become too much for you if you don’t have healthy kidneys and liver. If these organs are in a very healthy condition, you don’t have to worry too much about consuming lots of protein.
However, if your liver and kidneys are not in perfect condition, it is best to stick to a low range of protein intake. Do not eat more than your liver and kidney can take.
Too much protein can make it difficult for an unhealthy liver to break down the micronutrient. And sick kidneys will have a tough time processing it into waste and producing urine.
These body organs can manage within 3.5 to 4.5 grams per kilogram of weight. This is equivalent to 238 to 306 grams of protein in a day for a 150-pound woman.
Keep in mind that consuming this amount of protein may not be ideal even for women with healthy organs. Even if your kidneys and liver can process this much protein, it can put a lot of strain on your organs and possibly cause some damage.
Eating too much protein can present some issues such as:
- Bad Breath
- Weight Gain
- Kidney and liver damage
- Loss of calcium resulting in weakness of bones
It is always a good idea to check with your doctor in case of any of these health issues.
Are Protein Supplements a Good Solution?
Taking protein supplements is another good way of getting some protein into your system. Nevertheless, whole foods are the original sources of nutrients when it comes to a healthy diet.
As the name implies, protein supplements are meant to supplement and can never replace the original.
For this reason, even if protein supplements are beneficial, you should consider them as alternative sources of protein.
Perhaps you don’t have plenty of time to cook your own meals or if you follow a strict vegan diet and need to supplement your protein needs.
You can supplement protein from:
- Casein powders
- Rice protein powders for vegans
- Branched-chain amino acids
Here are a few tips to help you get more protein in your diet.
- Eat lean cuts of meat with plenty of dark green and colorful vegetables.
- Eat plenty of baked or poached fish.
- Take scrambled eggs with spinach as breakfast.
- Include seeds and nuts on top of a veggie side dish.
- Consider snacking on almonds.
The answer to the question, “how much protein should a woman eat to gain muscle” can be a bit confusing sometimes.
But you should understand that building muscles as a woman does not depend solely on the amount of protein you consume, whether it is from the original sources or supplements.
A healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle, plus the right choice of exercises will get you to your desired fitness goal.