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How Much Protein Do Women Need?
Q: Scott Welch said that there’s new research that shows that women should not take in more than 10 grams per meal, but that guy’s out to lunch! His magazine is great, but he doesn’t know anything about what women need!
A: Well, Scott does present an interesting point, but it will take some explaining. First off, athletes do need more protein regardless of whether they’re male or female, especially versus the average person. Ideally, we look to maximize muscle mass and strength, which can only be done at protein levels far above the recommended daily dose. While most people need minimal protein, athletes do require more to sustain a positive nitrogen balance throughout the day and support muscle building. As far as intake goes, the body can digest about 95 percent of what it is supplied. However, it’s what your body does with that digested protein and how it best utilizes it for protein synthesis that determines how much your body really needs to be effective for building muscle. Current research has shown that the amino acid leucine is responsible for much of the anabolic properties of the protein we consume. This anabolic amino essentially turns on the pathway responsible for muscle building via mTOR activation. When leucine levels are low, it signals to mTOR to stop. When leucine is present again, mTOR is activated once again to do its job in muscle building, growth, and repair.
Most research on this key essential amino acid suggests that leucine elicits its response on mTOR with a dose of as little as 3 grams. The amount of protein required at a meal to achieve this outcome will differ based on the leucine content of the protein source. Some leucine rich protein sources are eggs, meats, and poultry, as opposed to poor leucine sources such as wheat. Therefore, to ensure optimal muscle building, these leucine-rich proteins should be consumed every few hours, which is standard dietary procedure for any athlete who is following a high-protein diet and is concerned with muscle building. Most research suggests 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, divided out over five or six meals. Digested protein will provide leucine for muscle building, along with other essential aminos that support other important metabolic functions throughout the body.
For more info about what women need to get lean and mean, click here!
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