Are you struggling to lose weight? Have you lost muscle tone? Do you feel fatigued? Do you have mood swings? Have you been noticing extra aches and pains lately?
All of these can be signs that you aren’t getting enough protein, or not getting enough of the right sorts of protein in your diet.
Why is protein in your diet so important?
You’ve probably heard and filed away the catch phrase about how protein is the building block of you—sure it sounds important—but just what does it mean? Protein is made up of molecules called amino acids that do literally build, maintain, repair, and replenish all parts of your human body. Protein is found in every cell, tissue, organ, skin, hair, bone, and blood of your body—there are at least 10,000 different proteins that make up the building blocks for your body.
The right amount and type of protein in your diet keeps your metabolism humming, your heart and lungs strong, it boosts your immune system, and keeps your hair and skin looking healthy. Being fueled and nourished properly will help you weather the ups and downs of any given day and keep you sharp and focused—building grounded energy that manifests itself in your life.
Finally, certain proteins known as the essential amino acids can’t be built in your body, they must be obtained from the proteins we eat.
What’s the biggest challenge to getting enough protein? The biggest challenge for many women is getting enough protein at each meal and snack throughout the day. And here’s the thing: a-one-size-fits-all generic protein recommendation doesn’t cut it. You are unique, as is your lifestyle, age, personality, genetics, and biological make up. That means that the general recommendations given for women—46 grams of protein per day for women and 56 grams a day for men according to the Institutes of medicine—falls short for many. You are the expert when it comes to you and looking at the clues your body gives you can tell you whether you need more or less protein, or a different type or quality. Only you know what any given day will entail, but the odds are good that you’ll need to have plenty of stamina and energy to get through your own unique to-do list and taking a look at your protein needs and levels is key to balancing your hormones, increasing your energy, and helping you to lose weight.
How to find the best protein for me? Start by doing a little internal investigating to check in and see how and where your energy and balance rank. When I first meet a new patient at my practice, CentreSpring MD, I spend a few hours getting to know her—this is crucial! Unfortunately, the average doctor’s visit is somewhere around 10 minutes, but that’s okay because you can do your own self-examination that can help you uncover or identify where your protein might need a boost. In a recent guest blog, you’ll find my Mojo Meter, a quick and easy test to take stock of where your energy level is currently. You can also this test in my latest book Super Woman Rx, along with another self-examination quiz that will show you your unique PowerType and help you to further understand your nutritional and protein needs. That said, I typically start off by recommending that most women eat 15 to 20 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and 7 to 10 grams at snacks. Now let’s take a look at the types of proteins that might be best for you:
I have digestive issues. Join the club. Most women I meet have some sort of trouble with their gut. This can come in the form of cramping and bloating, heartburn or indigestion, or constipation or diarrhea, and more. Two things I’ll tell you to do right now. First, reset your gut with smoothies for breakfast and lunch for one week. Check out my detox plan here. Second, choose protein from plants because they tend to be easier on your digestive system than animal proteins. My favorite vegan and vegetarian proteins are listed in the chart below.
|Mung beans||1 cup/14 g||15 g|
|Lentils||1 cup/18 g||16 g|
|Edamame||1 cup/16 g||8g|
|Quinoa||1 cup/8 g||5g|
|Chia seeds||1 ounce/6 g||10 g|
|Chickpeas||1 cup/12 g||12 g|
|Eggs||2 eggs/15 g||0 g|
|Pumpkin Seeds||1 ounce/10 g||1 g|
|Pure Power||1 scoop/19 g||2 g* (see below for more info)|
I get exhausted by 3pm every day. Again, my preference is to use food to boost energy, so start with a high-protein snack with around 10 grams of protein. This should be something portable, easy to store in your car, purse, or desk. Here are a few of my favorite examples. Have a scheduled midday and evening meal so you don’t forget to eat. Again, it’s important to reiterate and reinforce a focus on high-protein foods—aim for at least 20 grams of protein each at lunch and dinner, not necessarily from meat, but from high-protein grains or alternatives like lentils, beans, or nut butters (see the chart above).
I’m struggling with anger, anxiety, and/or sadness. This is the number one sign that your hormones are probably out of balance. I’d again refer you to my 3-Day Gut Reset to balance out your hormones and boost your energy.
*How do I find the best protein powder? With a ton of available protein powders on the market, picking the right one can be tough. The protein in most powders comes from whey, whey isolate, soy, egg, rice, pea, or hemp protein, or some combination of these proteins. Here’s some general guidelines:
- Minimize sugar. Don’t pick a protein powder that has sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t pick protein powders with other sweeteners like dextrin or maltodextrin.
- Avoid intolerance. Skip soy, whey, and branched chain amino acid protein powders. These powders are designed for bulking or building muscle and aren’t as sensitive to super women digestive systems.
- Be kind to your gut. For people with delicate digestive systems—most women—rice, pea, and hemp protein are your best choices. Pure Power protein powder includes a specific blend of pea and hemp together to provide low calories and higher healthy fats while being easy on the digestion.
- Look for Omega-3s and fiber. Pure Power protein powder was specially designed to include flaxseed to boost digestive health, promote weight loss, balance blood sugar, and maintains estrogen dominance.