As women enter midlife, protein and all its health benefits plays a key role in our diet. We typically consume too little of this important macro-nutrient, which can be a real problem. As our estrogen is declining, we are losing muscle mass. Protein is the building block of our muscles and rich in health benefits. With less muscle, we are burning less calories which leads to weight gain even without changing our diet and exercise routine. This is one of the main complaints of women in midlife.
We can’t stop our inevitable declining hormones. But we can improve the foods we are consuming to remain strong and feel our best.
Why Do Middle-Aged Women Need More Protein?
Since peri-menopause and menopause can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms and put us at risk for certain diseases, eating certain foods can make this transition smoother. With declining estrogen levels, many women report weight gain, a weakened immune system, dry skin and unpredictable moods. Increasing our protein can help with a lot of these complaints and more. Check out my blog on improving your mood to help as well.
- Protein keeps our blood sugar more balanced which improves our moods and keeps sugar cravings away (Amen to that!)
- It helps the immune system function correctly (no one has time to be sick!)
- It maintains muscle mass which is what helps us burn more calories
- It keeps hair, nails and skin healthy
- It strengthens bones
- It keeps us full longer which helps with our weight loss goals (and who doesn’t want that?)
How Much Protein Do Women in Midlife Need?
The guidelines recommend that healthy aging women get 1-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. This translates to about 75-135 grams each day for a 150-pound woman. More activity or increased weight training will require the higher end of this calculation. Consult with your physician to be sure there are no contraindications (such as kidney disease) to this suggested amount. Too much protein, which is not a problem for most women, can cause intestinal discomfort, nausea, headaches and dehydration. Some of the signs you may not be getting the recommended amount are feeling weak or tired, moody, being hungry all of the time and having wounds that are slow to heal.
Best Protein Choices
It’s important to eat 15-30 grams of protein at each meal. You can add some healthy, protein-rich snacks to your day as well to get the required daily amount. Examples of foods rich in protein:
- One egg – 6 grams of protein
- One cup of broccoli – 4 grams
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter – 8 grams
- Three ounces of skinless chicken – 28 grams
- Six ounces of greek yogurt – 18 grams
- Three ounces of steak – 26 grams
- One cup of cottage cheese – 25 grams
- Vital Protein Collagen Peptides added to a smoothie is my go-to for lunch most days – 3 Tbsp has 18 grams of protein!
Women following a plant-based diet can also consume protein from soy, pumpkin seeds, almonds, beans, walnuts, and brown rice.
Protein does much more than aide in muscle growth. Finding ways to incorporate protein into your diet will help you live a long, active life. Reach out to learn how I can support you in your journey!
I’m a registered nurse for over 24 years with a Masters Degree in Nursing (Education). I am also a Certified Women’s Health Coach specializing in helping women navigate changing hormones in their 30s and beyond after my own difficult experience through menopause. I believe women should truly thrive in midlife and not just survive!