By Flora Yatra, Biochemist
Protein is an essential macronutrient for health, especially in women. It is used to build muscles, tendons, organs and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various other molecules that serve important functions. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids, 9 of which are considered essential, as they cannot be synthesized by our body and we obtain them through food.
In a healthy adult, the dietary recommendations for protein consumption are 0.8-1.0 g. of protein/kg of body weight. These values may of course be affected, depending on physical activity or other parameters, such as inflammatory conditions and trauma. It is important for women to consume adequate amounts of protein, as part of a balanced diet.
Why is protein necessary for women?
Protein enhances muscle recovery and muscle mass formation. Muscles are the body’s main metabolic organ. As a result, sufficient protein intake, in combination with strength exercises, leads to muscle mass and therefore metabolism increase. Especially for women, who naturally have a lower muscle mass and metabolism than men, protein is an important ally.
Additional evidence suggests a protective role of protein supplementation in older women, to maintain lean body mass and prevent muscle weakness. This fact suggests that the specific nutritional intervention with the protein supplement contributes to reducing the risk of sarcopenia.
PRESERVATION OF BONE MASS DURING MENOPAUSE
In a study of 72 premenopausal women, there was a statistically significant positive association between protein intake and a reduced risk of developing osteopenia, which plagues many postmenopausal women.
Similarly, a study on overweight teenage girls found that eating a high-protein breakfast reduces cravings and late-night snacking. This may be due to a decrease in ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone. At the same time, proteins prevent blood sugar spikes and hypoglycemia, thus helping us to satisfy cravings.
Some hormones are proteins, such as insulin and oxytocin. Therefore, adequate protein intake is essential not only for blood sugar balance but also for DNA repair and hormone production. Protein is the building block of pituitary hormone production – FSH, LH and TSH. These hormones go on to trigger the release of sex hormones, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. The balance of female hormones is essential for fertility and to avoid hormonal disorders that can affect both physical and mental health.
In conclusion, protein is an important component of women’s nutrition, contributing to disease prevention, as well as maintaining a healthy body weight. An easy way to increase your daily protein intake is to eat a snack high in protein and vitamins. An excellent, healthy and delicious option is a chocolate smoothie with 1 banana, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 scoop of Power Mix Cocoa protein and 1 tsp. chia seeds.