Regardless of whether you are a man or women, protein is an important macronutrient in your diet for many reasons. However, for the scope of this article, we’ll talk about why it is important for women who lift weights.
We all know that men and women differ in many ways. But what many do not know is how the diet between the two sexes is so different. While men prefer to chew on a good steak, women would much rather have something sugary, like chocolate, ice cream or pastry. Women just don’t seem to crave protein the way men do and while we all need our carbohydrates and healthy fats, not having enough protein is problematic for women.
Protein is the building blocks of the body. For the non-weight lifter, getting enough is usually easy by just eating a regular diet. But weight lifters need more than an average amount if they want to build muscle.
When lifting heavy weights, micro tears occur within a muscle. During the recovery phase of your training, the muscle repairs itself if it has enough protein to do so. How does it do this? Through the use of amino acids.
Of the 20 amino acids your body uses, nine are considered essential because our body cannot manufacture them the way it does for the other 11. The only way to get these nine is by eating complete protein or a combination of proteins that together are complete.
For example, separate, beans and rice are each incomplete because they are missing an amino acid or two that would make them complete. But when eaten together what one dish is missing the other has and visa-versa making them together a complete protein. Other complete protein sources include:
- Dairy products
- And the grains quinoa and buckwheat
In general nuts and seeds, legumes, most grains and vegetables my themselves are incomplete.
Other Health Benefits
Besides the importance of having adequate protein to repair and build muscles, there are other advantages to eating enough protein that can help you in the gym.
Because protein has a high thermic effect, 20% to 35% of protein calories consumed are used just to break down the protein. So the number of calories of the protein you eat are not the same as the number your body has to use as it already has used some in digestion.
Preserving muscle mass
If you don’t get enough carbohydrates and fats in your diet, your body will take the protein in muscle and use that for energy meaning not only do you not have enough to repair and build muscle you are actually losing muscle mass.
Boost your immune system
Gyms can be germy places. Even if people clean the equipment they use when done, germs still exist if they do not do a good job. But by eating whey protein as in a protein shake, it helps boost your immune system by providing glutathione known to improve immune systems. Being sick less means you can work out more.
How much protein is enough? For exercising adults, 1.7 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight is adequate for those lifting weight. To put that into perspective, a 120-pound woman would need about 7.2 ounces of protein.
Don’t let a lack of protein derail your weight lifting efforts. Lifting weights breaks down muscle; protein builds it back up so you are even more toned than before.