Women Lack Protein: Science-Backed Facts Call To Prioritise Intake

World Protein Day, observed annually on February 27, holds great significance as it aims to raise awareness about the crucial role of protein in our diets and advocate for nutritional security globally.

Harnur Watta
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Image credits: Health Europa

Image credits: Health Europa

World Protein Day, observed annually on February 27th, holds great significance as it aims to raise awareness about the crucial role of protein in our diets and advocate for nutritional security globally. This year, Protein Day 2024 adopts the theme "Solve With Protein," highlighting the pressing need to address the increasing demand for protein-rich foods and ensure their accessibility to people across India and the broader South Asia region. 


Staying mindful of protein needs is crucial for individuals of all genders. However, women may face greater challenges in meeting their protein requirements, particularly during certain life stages. Let's explore the reasons behind the protein deficiency among women. By understanding the nuances between sexes, we shed light on the optimal protein intake needed for women's well-being. 

The Importance of Protein for Women

Protein, consisting of essential amino acids, plays a vital role in building various components of the female body, from muscle tissues to cells. As protein undergoes continuous turnover in the body, it is essential to replenish it through dietary sources or supplements.

Insufficient protein intake can lead to muscle tissue loss, which is undesirable due to its association with increased risks of cognitive decline, insulin resistance, and elevated inflammatory markers. To ensure optimal health, meeting protein requirements is essential for women. 

Protein consumption may reduce the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease in women.  A study conducted over a period of 14 years presented that women who ate the most protein (approximately 110 grams per day) were 25% less likely to have had a heart attack or died from heart disease than women who ate the least protein (about 68 grams per day).

Women have bone loss as they age, and protein helps to maintain proper bone strength and density.  Protein accounts for approximately 50% of bone volume and 33% of bone mass.  Eating enough high-quality protein helps to maintain enough muscle growth and function, which is important for general bone health. 


Determining Protein Needs

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. However, this conservative value represents the minimum protein requirement for sedentary individuals.

However, experts emphasise that the average moderately active adult woman requires a higher protein intake, ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight, or 0.54 to 0.90 grams per pound. Factors such as body size, composition, and specific life stages influence the range within which an individual falls. 

Protein Requirements during Different Life Stages

Several periods of a woman's life necessitate adjustments to protein intake to meet the body's needs:

  1. Menstrual Cycle: Emerging research suggests that protein needs may fluctuate across the menstrual cycle. During the luteal phase, increased protein turnover is observed, indicating a greater requirement for protein intake during these days. 
  2. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Protein needs increase during pregnancy to support the growth of tissues and muscles. Additionally, breastfeeding women require extra protein to compensate for the loss of protein in breast milk. 
  3. Perimenopause and MenopauseAs women age, their muscles become less responsive to the anabolic effects of amino acids, resulting in an increased demand for protein. Perimenopause, which can start as early as age 35, may alter hormone levels and body composition, potentially increasing protein requirements. 
  4. Training Periods: Physical activity levels influence protein needs. After intense exercise, including resistance training, higher protein intake is necessary to facilitate muscle recovery. Pre-exercise protein consumption has shown promising effects in enhancing fat loss and training volume in women. 

Calculating Protein Intake

To fall within the recommended range of 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram, a 160-pound woman should consume between 87 and 144 grams of protein per day. Alternatively, aiming for around 100 grams of protein daily is a practical goal for most women, considering metabolic benefits such as improved fatty acid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, weight loss, and satiety.

Distributing protein intake evenly throughout the day, with approximately 30 grams per meal and additional protein-rich snacks, ensures a steady supply of amino acids for the body. 

Optimal Protein Sources

While individual dietary needs may vary, prioritising whole foods as the primary source of protein is ideal. While plant proteins are beneficial for their fibre and phytonutrient content, they may lack sufficient amounts of all essential amino acids. Animal proteins, on the other hand, provide a complete amino acid profile that the body utilises efficiently.

Protein powders and supplements can be convenient alternatives when whole food options are unavailable. 


Gytree's plant-based protein for women packs 26 grams of protein with essential multivitamins, minerals, and ayurvedic herbal extracts. A combination of pea and brown rice protein provides all nine essential amino acids to boost energy levels. 

Protein for Weight Loss

Research suggests that a higher protein diet, reaching or exceeding the 2.0 gram per kilogram threshold, can aid in weight loss. When combined with resistance training, a higher-protein diet helps preserve lean muscle mass, promotes satiety, and enables more efficient fat loss. 

Understanding protein requirements for women is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Adequate protein intake, tailored to individual needs, supports muscle maintenance, hormonal balance, and optimal functioning of the body. By incorporating protein-rich foods into their diets and adjusting intake during various life stages, women can prioritise their protein needs and enhance their overall health.


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