After years of working in health clubs and supplement stores, I decided this was something that HAD to be brought up. Dealing with women everyday, the most commonly asked question I get when suggesting more protein is… “won’t protein make me fat?”
What? Don’t be silly! Protein is an essential building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Plus, we all want healthy hair and nails (yes.. they’re primarily made up of protein).
Protein Is Not The Enemy
So will protein make me fat? Absolutely not! Just like anything else, it’s all about quality. If you’re eating high fat, processed meats and not watching your total caloric intake, you can gain weight or be wondering why the numbers won’t budge. Increasing your protein doesn’t mean you switch to bacon, bun-less burgers, and steaks (fattier proteins are definitely not good). It means eating clean, lean, good for your body proteins. Protein DOES NOT make you fat, poor diet choices – and high calories do.
Protein actually provides enormous benefits when it comes to weight management. Protein slows digestion and makes you feel fuller, helping to curb hunger. And a high protein diet has been proven to boost metabolism and increase the amount of calories you burn.
Protein Benefit Overview:
- Unlike carbohydrates and fats, your body does not store protein
- A high protein diet slows digestion, making you feel fuller for longer
- It takes more work to digest and metabolize protein, which results in more calories burned
- Protein reduces levels of hunger hormones
- A high protein diet boosts metabolism
How much protein should I eat?
I could make this a really complicated answer, or a really easy one… I prefer easy! Assuming you aren’t overly active or on a serious training regimen, the average woman should intake around 45 grams of protein per day. If you’re active in the gym, you should get about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Of course age, activity, and health/fitness goals play a role in quantity…
Quality Sources of Protein:
- Boneless/skinless chicken breasts (6oz) – 39 gs of protein, 182 cals
- Fish/shellfish (6oz) – tuna (43 gs of protein, 197 cals), swordfish (43 gs of protein, 264 cals), shrimp (36 gs of protein, 168 cals), tilapia (45 gs of protein, 216 cals), etc
- Lean ground turkey or patties (6 oz) – 32 gs of protein, 255 cals
- Lean ground beef or steak (6 oz) – 50 gs of protein, 328 cals
- Low fat cottage cheese (1 cup) – 28 gs of protein, 164 cals
- Greek yogurt (1 cup) – 18 gs of protein, 134 cals
- Low sugar protein shake (1 serving) – 20 gs gs of protein, 100 cals
- Eggs (1 large) – 6 gs of protein, 78 cals
What if I eat too much?
I would like to state that this is a controversial subject, but also want you to keep in mind that it would be difficult to eat “too much” protein. Not only would you have to eat extremely high amounts (double your body weight in grams or more), but it would have to occur over a long period of time for it to negatively effect your body. If you actually took it to this extreme, some of the side effects could include: bad breath, dehydration, constipation and potential kidney issues.
Will I Get She-man Muscles?
Don’t be silly… protein will NOT make you bulky, I promise. Unfortunately (and fortunately)… protein alone will not build muscle. Cupcakes and burgers may make us rounder, but eating protein will not make you the next Xena Warrior Princess. That is going to require a lot of protein mixed with heavy lifting, lifetime commitment, with a splash of testosterone that women do not have enough of naturally. Making sure you have a healthy balance in your diet is the goal here.
Using Protein to Lose Weight
Losing weight is a simple math equation. Reduce calories, lose weight. You can burn those extra calories through exercise, or you can adjust and modify your diet. Hopefully it’s clear by now that protein WILL NOT make you fat! To the contrary, try cutting down on those fat and carbohydrates and take a few extra bites of protein. Not only will you feel fuller, but the scale is likely to tip in your favor.