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A Scientific Guide to the Benefits of Taking Protein, for Women

A lot of women do not eat protein because they are afraid of bulking up. But protein should not just be associated with building muscle.

Why Women Need Protein

What do you think of when you hear the word “protein?” You might imagine a muscular man pumping iron, but the truth is women need protein just as much as men do. In the body, protein plays a critical role in many functions, from our cells all the way up to our muscles. It’s present in every single cell in our body, helping to repair cells and make new ones. As a macronutrient, protein is required for the structure and regulation of all tissues and organs, ensuring that they function optimally. Protein also helps generate energy for healthy muscle contractions. Plus, protein is necessary when trying to gain muscle mass.

Dietary protein is commonly found in animal-origin foods like meat and poultry. However, it is also found in some vegetables and legumes, like peas and soy. When consumed in meals, protein contributes to feeling fuller and more satisfied. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends that men and women consume between 10% to 35% of their total calories in the form of protein. For some people, this can be challenging, especially for older adults. That’s why protein powders and shakes are a convenient way to consume enough protein each day.

But won't it make me bulk?

Protein isn’t just for building muscle. Even if you are not trying to build muscle, protein is needed for lean muscle synthesis. Lean muscle helps the body be stronger and healthier. It’s a common misconception that protein makes people appear overweight. Protein is also needed for healthy skin, strong bones, and faster recovery after exercise.

One of the biggest benefits of protein for women is that it can provide a source of energy and promote satiety. Consuming extra protein in snacks can help women get through an afternoon slump, or fuel the body through a tough workout.

Top 11 Protein Powder Benefits for Women

Protein powders are a simple and convenient way to add more protein to your diet. Whether you’re an athlete, fitness enthusiast, or simply aiming for a more balanced diet, these powders offer a number of benefits tailored to women’s needs. Let’s take a look at what the science says about the top 11 advantages of incorporating protein powder into your daily routine.

1. Weight management

If you are trying to manage your weight, or support a balanced body composition, eating enough protein is essential. It’s every bit as vital as regular exercise, stress management, adequate water intake, and sleep. Ideally, you should be consuming protein with every meal. Dairy products, lean meats, poultry, seafood, and legumes are all good sources of protein. However, if you follow a plant-based diet, you can still obtain protein through foods like tofu, quinoa, almonds, peas, hemp, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds.

Eating protein during meals can help you feel fuller longer and may even curb excess snacking. This is especially true when protein is combined with fiber. In addition, your body burns more calories digesting protein compared to other macronutrients. This is known as the thermic effect.

To effectively manage weight with protein, consumption should be spread out throughout the day. Having some protein at each meal helps with healthy weight and muscle synthesis compared to only eating protein at some meals.

2. Lean muscle growth

Protein is an essential component to building lean muscle tissue, which is essential for increasing the body’s ability to burn food for energy. The more muscle tissue a person has, the higher their resting metabolic rate. The resting (or basal) metabolic rate is how much energy your body needs to function each day at rest. Lean muscle tissue increases baseline metabolism. It also helps the body convert food into energy. Muscles are more metabolically active than adipose tissue. So the more lean muscle you have, the more energy your body can burn at rest.

Amino acids are known as the “building blocks" of protein. Making sure you get enough through your diet can help with muscle repair for continued growth in the long run. When you exercise or lift weights, your muscles experience fatigue and micro-tears. This is where protein comes into play. The protein is broken down in the body and the amino acids are used to repair the tears, making muscles stronger.

3. Post-workout recovery

The amino acids found in protein are essential for helping the muscles repair and grow. When we exercise, our muscles enter a catabolic state, breaking down tissues. Once the exercise concludes, they transition into an anabolic state, getting ready to rebuild. Consuming protein within an hour of exercise helps capitalize on this anabolic window, ensuring muscles are prepared for recovery.

Interestingly, consuming protein before a workout can be just as important in aiding muscle growth. Among the various protein types, whey protein is the gold standard for whole body anabolism. Of course, protein powder is helpful, but consuming protein-rich foods in the diet can also help with muscle support.

4. Hunger and appetite control

Protein supports satiety and appetite. Consuming protein throughout the day helps to regulate overall hunger levels and cravings. A meta-analysis of numerous studies found that higher protein intake helped support healthy body composition and weight balance.

The best way to manage hunger and appetite is by balancing total macronutrient intake. Protein is necessary, but the body still needs healthy fats, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and veggies.

5. Hair, skin, and nails

Protein plays a large role in the health and integrity of hair, skin, and nails. Collagen is a protein that makes up to 70% of the skin’s composition. It is the most abundant protein in the body and it’s needed to keep connective tissues and joints strong. Collagen greatly declines in the body as a natural part of aging. As collagen declines, signs of aging appear. These could include puffy skin under the eyes, brittle nails, and dull hair. Consuming enough dietary protein, which provides amino acids needed to synthesize collagen, is an important part of healthy aging. The amino acids proline, glycine, and lysine are all needed to fuel collagen synthesis.

6. Bone health

Women are more likely to experience challenges with bone health. Most people associate calcium and Vitamin D with strong and healthy bones, but protein also plays a critical role. Getting adequate protein is necessary for keeping bones strong. A healthy lifestyle with increased physical activity, limited alcohol use, and avoidance of tobacco are essential for maintaining optimal bone health.

7. Easy digestibility

In order for our bodies to be able to benefit from the amino acids in protein, we need to be able to digest them properly. Protein powders can be a beneficial way to consume these amino acids, as they may be easier for the body to digest than natural food sources. However, they cannot wholly substitute protein intake as part of a balanced diet. A simple and effective way to ensure you are making proteins more digestible is by taking the time to thoroughly chew your food.

8. Supporting metabolic rate

Your metabolic rate is influenced by a number of factors: age, birth sex, stage of life, genetics, and so on. Exact protein needs vary based on these unique factors. Studies have indicated that higher protein intake over time compared to higher carb intake is associated with greater muscle mass and body fat distribution, especially when paired with exercise. This is important because the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate is. In simplest terms, muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.

Protein also fuels many of the body’s energy processes. A protein-deficient diet can result in decreased DNA synthesis and energy transport. On the flip side, an adequate protein diet can support healthy metabolism and energy generation in cells.

The metabolic advantages of protein also make it essential for hormone health, mood, immune system function, healthy growth and development, reproductive wellness, and bone health.

9. Convenience and taste

The experience of food, including how it tastes, is important. A study that looked at how taste, convenience, nutrition, and cost impacted the shopping habits of consumers found, to no surprise, 77% of adults reported that taste was their highest-rated concern. Shopping for a tasty protein powder shouldn't be complicated. When conducting your search, you will probably find that whey protein powders come up first; however, there are all sorts of protein powders out there: hemp, soy, and egg are only a few, and each has its own unique flavor profile.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of powders that people report as having a dry or chalky taste. Many protein powders also don’t dissolve or blend well into milk, juice, or water. There are numerous options out there, and given individual preferences, sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error as to which one tastes best to you.

10. Protein alternative for people with dietary restrictions

Protein powders are a great way for people with dietary restrictions to fill gaps they may have in their diet. There are few key things to keep in mind, though. Anyone allergic to dairy should steer clear of whey or casein protein powder. However, for those with lactose intolerance, whey protein isolate may be fine, since it contains very little lactose.

To be completely safe, plant-based protein powders are a great alternative for those with dairy sensitivities or individuals who follow a vegan diet. Regardless of your choice, it’s important to always read the labels and consider other sources of allergens. Care/of’s protein powders come in both whey and plant-based forms. They were formulated with both pleasant flavor and texture in mind.

11. Strong amino acid profile

There are two categories of amino acids: essential and nonessential. Essential amino acids must be obtained from your diet. It’s important to ensure that your protein intake supplies enough essential amino acids. Whey protein stands out in this regard, since it is a complete protein source that provides all of the essential amino acids.

Alternatively, plant-based protein sources usually need to be combined with other sources to form a “complete” protein. For instance, it’s not uncommon for plant-based protein powders to contain a blend of pea protein, hemp, and pumpkin seed protein. On their own, they wouldn’t contain all the essential amino acids, but when they are combined, together they provide the complete amino acid profile. Many protein powder labels identify which amino acids are included.

Which protein should I take?

Care/of protein powders are made from real, natural ingredients you would find in your pantry, like organic cocoa, coconut MCT oil, and pink Himalayan sea salt. By using real, natural ingredients, the taste is familiar and the ingredients are easily put to use by the body.

Our protein powders are made with foods that you recognize, sourced from high-quality ingredients around the world. We carry whey, plant, and boost powders for every nutritional need.

  • Whey: Fewer than 100 calories and made with hormone-free, grass-fed Irish cow milk.
  • Plant-based: Vegan, fewer than 150 calories, and made from organic plants dense with nutrients.
  • Boost powders: Includes chia-flax, electrolytes, superberry, and maca powders.

Don’t waste your time with chalky powders that don’t blend. Let Care/of deliver your perfect match to support muscle growth, boost your body, and power your way through life. We like to think that by drinking the right protein powder, you don’t just build a strong body, but a strong soul.

The Bottom Line

The benefits of protein stretch far beyond just building muscle. Protein is integral for various bodily functions, from repairing our cells to generating energy. Women, in particular, can benefit from adequate protein intake in a number of ways, whether it be weight management, lean muscle growth, bone health, post-workout recovery, or even the health of hair, skin, and nails. If you struggle to obtain enough protein in your diet, protein powders offer a convenient method to help you meet your requirements. Reputable brands like Care/of can make it easy to get the high-quality protein that you need.

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