This post title requires a clarification right up front. When I use the word diet here, I mean “way of eating.” I won’t be talking about calorie restriction, fasting, or weight loss at all. In fact, this is all about eating ENOUGH protein to support our bodies, especially for female bodies over 40.
Protein is a crucial part of our diet as humans. The primary function of protein is to create tissue. Muscle, bone, skin, connective tissue, you name it, it helps build it. Protein is also responsible for creating enzymes, cellular signaling, maintaining fluid balance, buffering acids/bases in our body and producing hormones and neurotransmitters. When I look at that list, I think WOW - there’s a lot of magic happening inside of us that requires protein. It’s worth paying attention to.
Why do I call out female bodies over 40? Because as we go through perimenopause and menopause, our bodies have a harder time maintaining and building muscle. As many bodies change during this period, it can be tempting for some to think about calorie restriction. But that can lead to greater losses in muscle and possibly strength.
Protecting our future independence, goals and adventures depends on strong capable bodies. Muscle matters.
The specific amount of protein you need will depend on your individual body and your level of activity. (Check out my August 2021 blog - Are you eating enough protein for more information). My personal minimum? About 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, divided across my meals, making sure a big chunk is eaten right after strenuous exercise.
Ok, we have the why, we have the how much, now for the next question - WHAT!? (Yea! My favorite part). Here are 45 ideas that will fit most any way of eating, protein amounts are listed in approximate grams per serving.
One last note on proteins, the building blocks of protein are amino acids and there are 13 amino acids called essential amino acids. These are the ones our bodies cannot make on their own, we need to eat them. Animal products and soy contain all the essential amino acids. If you are eating strictly a plant based and don’t eat soy, you’ll want to consider eating complementary proteins, or pairs of protein sources that give us those essential amino acids. Classic examples? A peanut butter sandwich or beans and rice. More generally speaking, look to pair legumes with nuts, seeds or dairy; grains with dairy or dairy with nuts.
Adequate protein in our diet, fuels our bodies so that we can be strong, move with more ease and say yes to those opportunities and individuals who inspire us.
Thanks for being here!
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