Are women's and men's protein needs different?
Most men are interested in a visible increase in the size of muscle cells. For women, who may not want to bulk up visible fat and build lean muscle, nutritional requirements can look different
Protein intake is a widely-discussed issue among those trying to achieve their fitness goals like building muscle mass or muscle loss after intensive fitness training. Since women tend to have lower quantities of lean mass and more fat mass compared to men, boosting protein can sustain the lean mass.
It has also been observed that most men are interested in hypertrophy, or a visible increase in the size of muscle cells. For women, who may not want to bulk up but rather lose visible fat and build lean muscle, nutritional requirements like protein needs can look different.
Protein and protein sources
Rightly called the 'building blocks of your body', protein is a macronutrient which serves various anatomical functions like adequate flow of blood and oxygen through the body, digestion and regulation of hormone levels. Protein helps our muscles to repair and regrow after exercise and injury. It should also be noted that every gram of protein contains four calories, whereas that number for one gram of fat is nine calories.
Rich protein sources for both men and women include animal and plant-based sources like milk products, eggs, meat, soy, tofu, pulses, beans, black gram, and legumes, and a healthy person should consume all of these in combination to get high-quality proteins. ICMR-NIN says that protein requirements vary with age, physiological status and stress. More proteins are required by growing infants and children, pregnant women and individuals during infections and illness or stress. For people doing fitness training, protein requirements differ as well.
According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), while the recommended daily allowance for a 55-kg woman (whether doing sedentary or heavy work) is 55 grams of protein, for pregnant women and breastfeeding women, this goes up significantly. When it comes to health supplements like protein shakes, women often have to make do with products made for men, since the market is saturated with those.
Doctor's Choice, a 2018-established health supplement brand, is launching a new range of women-centric protein supplements that also aid fat loss. DC's Lean Pro, a high- protein meal replacement for a lean and fit body, balances weight, having zero trans-fat, sugar-free, no preservatives and is gluten free which is safe to use. Suggested by Nupur Vats, Co-Founder, Doctor's Choice, here are things female fitness enthusiasts should keep in mind about their protein intake:
1. Try to build and maintain a high-protein diet that significantly aids weight loss and helps with fitness performance. Just increasing protein intake won't magically give results and needs to be complemented with healthy food choices and regular workouts.
2. If you are taking protein supplements, avoid fake products that saturate the market and do more harm than good. Go for makers who swear by quality and international standards. Put health before money.
3. Most protein powders are formulated focusing on male body requirements. Women simply need smaller doses of protein to reach their macronutrient needs. While some proteins do have male-specific ingredients, like testosterone boosters. These products should not be taken by women. It's suggested to women to consume soy-based protein more since it has agents which boost estrogen levels in women and hence it's advised for male to consume it less.
4. Beyond just the protein content, women's protein powders have additional ingredients that a body needs. There are brands in the market that aim at different kinds of whey protein made just for women. Folic Acid is essential for pregnant women or are trying to be. It helps women fight the risk of strokes, heart disease, and several kinds of cancer. Vitamin B6 which helps women maintain a healthy immune system and reduce heart disease. Iron assists red blood cells in the transferring of oxygen throughout the body. As women lose a lot of blood in their menstrual cycles, women need more iron than men in order to fight fatigue or anaemia. Women's specific protein powders typically have a higher content of folic acid, vitamin B6, and iron, which is required for growth in females.
5. To improve the taste, the sugar content that many brands use in their protein powder formulas are high. Especially true for powders that are marketed directly to women. But the finest protein powders for women won't add a lot of sugars just to give users a boost in flavour. For a natural solution instead of processed sugar, look for brands that use natural sweeteners such as honey or stevia.