May 21, 2024

Why Women Should be Eating More Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for everyone, but many women simply aren’t getting enough. How much protein each person should aim to consume varies and is entirely dependent based on your physical activity, age, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Let’s talk about how all of those can affect your protein goals. 

Weight Goals and Physical Activity

Whether you want to lose fat or gain muscle, protein is your friend. The amount of protein you should consume will change based on your goals and how much physical activity you get each day, but in general, the more physically active you are, the more protein you should consume.

If you are trying to lose weight, a high-protein diet in a calorie deficit will help you burn fat while maintaining or gaining muscle mass. Protein will also help keep you feeling satiated so you’re less likely to want to eat more. If you’re wanting to lose fat while building muscle, you should aim to consume at least 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight every day. So, a woman who weighs 200 pounds and wants to burn more fat should get a total of 160-240 grams of protein each day while also consuming fewer calories. 

For those wanting to build more muscle, aim to get 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day. Strength training along with a high-protein diet will increase your muscle mass and keep your body in tip top shape. If you don’t want to do the math yourself, you can use this protein calculator


During a woman’s life, there are times where she will need to increase her protein intake. As we age, we can experience muscle loss, but if we increase how much protein we receive each day and begin strength training, we can combat muscle atrophy caused by aging. Many women would benefit from consuming more protein during and after perimenopause and menopause. 

Women can also benefit from eating more protein during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle (after ovulation and leading up to your period) as our bodies metabolize more protein amino acids during this phase. 

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Getting an adequate amount of protein during pregnancy is crucial for both the mother and the baby since the amino acids in protein help with cell growth, fetal development, and maintaining muscle mass. Eating more protein during pregnancy can also decrease the risk of preterm labor. You should aim for about 70-90 grams of protein each day. Eating a high protein diet will continue to be crucial after you have given birth as the protein will give your body what it needs to heal from the delivery. 

Breastfeeding women will need to replenish the nutrients lost to making breast milk. Eating more protein or drinking a protein shake every day can help restore those nutrients. 

Foods High in Protein

Meat and eggs are an excellent source of protein, but so are beans, nuts, seeds, dairy, and protein shakes. Try your best to get your protein from whole foods to ensure you're getting good quality nutrients. Protein shakes can be helpful, but avoid any with excessive amounts of sugar. 

To get the most out of your protein, break it up into fragments for each meal. So instead of having a lot of protein in just one meal, you get close to the same amount for every meal. If your goal is to get 120 grams of protein daily and you eat three meals a day, you can break that up into 40 grams of protein at each meal. 

Don’t Forget about Fiber

If you’re going to increase your protein intake, don’t forget to increase your fiber as well to keep your bowels in working order. Women generally need to consume about 25-30 grams of fiber daily. You can find fiber in many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and legumes. The benefits of fiber include having a healthier gut microbiome, regular bowel movements, reduced risk of colon cancer, and can even help to regulate your blood sugar. 

To learn more about dietary needs, schedule an appointment with our midwives today!

Dakota Collins
Dakota Collins is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of two precious little girls who is passionate about freedom in pregnancy and childbirth.
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