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October 01, 2015 3 min read

For too long protein powder has been associated with jacked up, body building men. The truth is, protein powder can have awesome benefits for women too! “Women may actually benefit more from protein powder than men do,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist Marie Spano, R.D. “Men who are involved in a general fitness program typically have enough protein in their diet, whereas many women fall short. Protein powder can help fill in the gaps.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women consume 46 grams of protein a day. But, experts believe that active women, or those looking to lose weight, may actually require even more than that in order to keep their muscles strong and their metabolism humming. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recommend that athletes consume between 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So, if you are a 140-pound woman, that's 76 and 108 grams! In our busy day-to-day lives it can be difficult to consume that much protein on a daily basis. Enter protein powder. Having a shake or a smoothie with some powder mixed in fills those gaps and allows you to meet your protein needs without sacrificing a whole lot of time. “When cutting calories, a female actually needs more protein than if she is consuming enough calories to maintain her weight,” says Spano. “Weight loss includes fat, muscle, and a tiny bit of bone. Of course you want to lose more fat and less muscle. To do this, you’ll need to increase the amount of protein you consume to spare muscle-tissue losses.” Protein powder can also save you calories! Protein powders contain little to no grams of fat or carbs so all of their calories come from protein and this equates to about 4 calories per gram! Amazing, right? One of the most common ways to get your protein in powder form is with a shake. “For before training, protein powder in a shake can make for an easy-to-digest meal that won’t sit too heavy in the stomach. But you might want to keep the volume on the lower end since a 32-ounce blender full might be hard to keep down during burpees. For post-workout, combining whey protein with some potassium-rich fruit like bananas or strawberries in your smoothie helps with recovery," says board-certified sports dietitian Georgie Fear, R.D., author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss. After you've had a particularly tough workout, Fear suggests eating both carbs and protein. Aim for 15 grams of protein. If you are using your smoothie or shake in place of a full meal, Fear recommends trying to hit 25 to 30 grams of protein. “Most brands of whey protein, the most popular kind out there, come with a scoop that typically measures out an ounce of powder and provides 20 to 25 grams of protein. If you mix it with milk, kefir, or yogurt, you’ll get some additional protein there.” She also says that adding nuts, nut butters, chia, hemp and/or flax can also help you get some healthy fats in there that will make you feel fuller longer. If you mix in some fruits and veggies (but not too much fruit, you don't want all the calories), you can get some of the carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins you need!   So what kind of protein do you choose? With a shelf full of options and everyone with an opinion, it can be enough to make your head spin. But Fear has an answer. “Whey, which comes from cow’s milk, has been shown to be more effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis, it’s affordable, and in my opinion tastes the best. So I recommend whey protein unless a client has a reason not to use it." If you are a vegan, you'll want to avoid whey as well as casein which also comes from cow's milk. Soy is a great vegan option post-workout. It is rapidly digested which means it is giving your body the amino acids it needs almost right away. And unlike the other plant protein powders (rice/hemp/pea), soy contains all of the essential amino acids. No matter what you choose, it is important to read the back label. Fear suggests looking for a brand that has less than five grams of carbs and two grams of fat per serving. Protein should also be the first ingredient and take a pass if the ingredient list includes 'added amino acids.' Those amino acids are cheaper and may not provide all of the health benefits. It is also advisable to avoid fillers like wheat grass, apple fiber, maltodextrin, or cellulose. They just add bulk and take away from the protein you're looking for. How do you use your protein powder? Shakes, smoothies, pancakes, on your oatmeal? What's your favourite? Source: Women's Health

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