Many women ask me whether protein shakes will cause them to gain weight or “bulk up” too quickly. But it might surprise you to know that the average woman isn’t getting enough protein. It is the key building block for repair and maintenance, so a lack of it may not only contribute to problems with your skin, hair and nails, but it can contribute to weight gain too.
It’s the type of weight that makes the difference where your dress size is concerned, as muscle mass is more dense and hungry for energy. Therefore, protein not only makes you look and feel smaller, but helps you stay that way too. Studies show that protein can help you to lose weight and it can prevent you from gaining it in the first place.
Did you know that an average woman weighing 63kgs (10-11st) will require between 70-90grams a day depending on her level of activity?
Looking at wholefood sources, a breast of chicken of fillet of fish weighing 80g will deliver about 25grams of protein, a palmful of nuts and seeds offers about 8g, and a medium sized egg will give you 7g.
If you don’t eat meat or fish, 100g of cooked beans and lentils will provide around 10g of protein. You can increase your intake by incorporating foods such as quinoa with 15g per 100g of cooked weight, and incorporating chia seeds in yoghurt, porridge or smoothies.
However, my clients and I find it much easier and cost effective to maintain a healthy level of protein with plant-based concentrates – either as a breakfast on the dash, as an afternoon snack to beat the 4pm munchies, or as a post-training recovery aid. Meta-studies also show that decreasing your animal protein intake and replacing it with plant-based protein is associated with improved weight management, body composition and disease prevention.
I’ve also found that plant based protein powders are great if you don’t have time to cook. I grabbed a Thai Veggie Curry from one of my local supermarkets last night and added a sample serving of hemp protein to it. Not only did it help me meet my daily target, it added a lovely creamy texture instead of the gritty taste I had been used to with other brands. I’m certainly looking forward to using it with all the soups and stews I’ll be making.