According to the recommended daily allowance, women only require 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. However, if you’re physically active on a regular basis, that number is way off base.
Protein’s Role in Your Body
Protein is found in every cell in your body. It helps you grow healthy hair and nails, regulates hormones and if you’re an athlete, it helps you build muscle, prevent muscle loss and enhances recovery. Recent studies also support the theory that protein can help you put on muscle while losing fat.
Putting Protein to the Test
At the University of South Florida, one research team conducted an eight-week study to determine the effect of a high-protein diet on body composition. Two groups of women completed a strength-training plan. The first group ate a high-protein diet with 1.1 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, while the second group ate a lower-protein diet with 0.55 grams of protein per body weight. Each participant was allowed to combine this protein requirement with as many, or as few, carbs and fats as they wanted.
After the full eight weeks, the high-protein group gained more lean body mass and lost more fat mass than the lower-protein group. While more studies need to be done to confirm these findings, it seems clear that the old myth that protein leads to fat gains is completely false. Despite a higher overall caloric intake each day, the participants in the USF study all gained muscle and lost fat by eating more calories from protein.
This was the first study to limit participation to women only. Studies using men have shown that combining a higher-protein diet with resistance training does not lead to body fat gains, however these male participants did not experience significant changes in lean body mass or fat loss like the women. Based on this observation, the USF research team has theorized that women are actually more responsive to a high daily protein intake than men when it comes to increasing lean body mass.
If you’re a woman and your goal is to gain lean muscle and lose body fat, try eating 1 gram of high-quality protein per pound of body weight daily. Get the majority of your protein from your diet, but supplement with one of our proteins for some variety and on-the-go convenience.