Historically, women have had a complicated relationship with protein.
That antiquated notion that men can order steak at a restaurant while the more “feminine” choice is a salad has stuck around way too long. And shakes anchored with whey, hemp, or pea protein? It used to be thought of as a gym bro thing.
But lately—fortunately!—times have changed, and stashing a protein bar in your gym bag for a pre- or post-workout boost has become the norm.
For many women who are realizing what protein can provide—everything from sustained energy to glowing skin—the shift is even changing the way they think about food.
It’s not just about fueling up anymore, though. For many women who are realizing what protein can provide—everything from sustained energy to glowing skin—the shift is even changing the way they think about food. (Read: It’s about self-care, not deprivation.)
Of course, the devil is in the (muscle-building) details: What role does protein play on days when you don’t hit the gym? How much do you need, and which form is best?
How much protein women actually need
First, some protein basics. Frances Largeman-Roth, RD’s hard and fast rule is that women need one gram per one kilogram of weight a day. “The caveat to that is that the body can only absorb 30 grams of protein at once,” she says. “[After that], if it isn’t burned off as energy, it will be stored as fat.” (And after a while, a protein detox may be in order.)
What does 30 grams look like? An egg has 6 grams, there are 25 grams in 3 ounces of tuna, and 8 grams in 1 cup of quinoa—so it does add up pretty quickly. (Which is why this handy guide to protein is helpful.)
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