How Much Protein Do Women Really Need?

Up to 50% of women ages 18–50 don’t know if they get enough protein. Here’s a how-to guide.


protein-women-need

With magazines and diets touting the satiating power of protein, it's important to know this essential nutrient does a lot more than fill you up. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues, and it is an important building block of muscles and bones. However, 50% of women ages 18–50 don't know if they get enough protein, according to a new survey by Luna.

So how much protein do women need? According to Tara Dellolacono Thies, a registered dietitian and nutritional spokesperson for Clif Bar, most women need between 50 and 60 grams of protein a day.

But this isn't an exact science. The Institute of Medicine recommends .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but here's a simpler way to break down you protein needs:
Activity levelProtein needs (grams)
SedentaryWeight in pounds X .4
ActiveWeight in pounds. X .6
Competitive athleteWeight in pounds X .75
Light body-builderWeight in pounds X .85

What are the best sources?
Most people with a well-rounded diet eat enough protein, but it's important to include complete proteins, which contain all nine of the essential amino acids. Sources of complete protein include meat, fish, eggs, most dairy products, and soybeans. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are often missing certain amino acids, but they can be combined to make a complete protein meal.

And although meats contain high amounts of protein, be sure to consider how much saturated fat is in your cut. One serving of steak can contain up to 75% of your saturated fat for the day! Here are a few good examples of low-fat, protein-packed foods:
Protein sourceAmount of protein (grams)Serving size
Tuna (yellowfish)334 oz.
Roasted chicken323/4 cup, diced
Lean flank steak314 oz.
Soybeans213/4 cup
Lentils171 cup
Non-fat plain Greek yogurt156 oz.

Other good protein sources include salmon, turkey, lamb, beans, nuts, and milk. If you're on the go, there are shelves full of protein and energy bars. However, these can often be candy bars disguised as healthy snacks. Try these bars that will fill you up without breaking the calorie bank.
Mara Betsch
Last Updated: March 01, 2010

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