Protein is one of the essential nutrients that our body needs. However, it is sometimes removed from the daily meals or menu, especially when you are strictly following a certain diet. But, is it essential for menopause? Find out more about its significant roles and how it helps make a woman feel better during the golden years.
All About Protein
Protein is the building block of most of our body parts and it plays important roles in the formation of the body chemicals. Here are the rest of the most important roles of protein:
- It serves as the food of each of our cells, to make sure they function properly in the body
- Makes enzymes, hormones and other significant chemicals in the body
- Makes up the structure of the bones, cartilages, muscles, skin and blood
- Repairs and builds tissues and holds each of our genetic codes
- Transports oxygen and some nutrients throughout the body
- Makes the teeth, hair and nails strong and healthy
Protein is a macronutrient. This means that it is needed by the body in large amounts. Compared to the vitamins and minerals, the body only needs them in small amounts, so they are called micronutrients. We don't normally store protein in our body. That's why it is important to find a good source and include it in your diet. It does not necessarily mean that you have to load your diet with very large quantities of protein everyday. Just enough to replenish what has been used by your body is needed.
According to the Harvard Health Publications, the key is to space out your protein consumption throughout the day. You may consume 25 to 30 grams of protein 3 to 5 times a day, instead of eating everything in one meal. In case of having kidney damage, there is no relevant evidence stating that increasing your consumption of protein could threaten the kidney's health. In fact, even studies show that it has positive influence to human health.
Protein in Menopause
As we approach the menopause age, our bodies lose muscle and bone mass. It happens as early as our twenties, but they usually drop lower in our golden years. We need to maintain muscle mass and keep it toned to prevent frailty and weakness.
Protein consumption is important to counter what is naturally lost with age. It is good to know that the decrease in muscle mass can be prevented through your cautious yet simple efforts. You may wonder if protein consumption will help you bulk up. The answer to that question would be yes, only if you work out to actually build bulk. But, eating protein will not build bulky muscles.
Besides muscle development, proteins are rich sources of amino acids. There are over 20 types of amino acids and 9 of them are essential amino acids. The body needs these 9 essential amino acids for optimum functioning. They also build many of our hormones and can relieve symptoms during menopause.
Many would think that protein is only needed by individuals who are very active, like the athletes. This was the perception of a lot of people, but now we know better. To make sure we get enough proteins for our body to function fully, we can eat real food that is filled with this nutrient. Real food is always available, but to get enough protein that your body needs, it is good to supplement it with powdered proteins in smoothies or in your favorite meals and even snacks.
Protein is highly available in animal meat and products. They are called “complete proteins” because they contain all the amino acids that are needed by the body. Proteins can also be found in plant based products, but they are incomplete proteins. They do not offer the same amino acids that complete proteins have.
To get Complete proteins, you can eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, yogurt and milk. You can find Incomplete proteins in beans, peas, nuts, grains and seeds. It's good to know that you can still gain muscle with plant-based sources. So if you are following a vegan diet, your plant-based proteins can help you feed your body with energy and build muscle.
Here's to give you a picture on how much proteins you can get from the following sources:
- 1 cup cooked quinoa = 11 grams
- 1 cup boiled lentils = 17.9 grams
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter = 8 grams
- 1 cup boiled broccoli = 4.6 grams
- 1 slice whole wheat bread = 2.7 grams
- 1 cup or 245 grams yogurt, milk or soy milk = 100 grams
- 1 large egg (with egg whites) = 100 grams
- 1 oz or 28 grams nuts and seeds (pumpkin, squash or watermelon seeds) = 100 grams
- 3 oz or 85 grams lean chicken (breast part) = 100 grams
- 3 oz or 85 grams filleted fish (tuna, salmon or halibut) = 100 grams
Watch the video below to see what and how much food you should eat to have a good level of protein in a meal. (8.36 minutes)
These powders are slightly processed to help boost protein depending on your body needs. You don't have to be a body builder or a figure competitor to take whey proteins or powder in your diet. You can use them to supplement your protein needs as well. And, they contain complete proteins, so they have the essential amino acids to fill in what the body needs. The most common powder source for protein are the whey powders. They are known to help:
- Decrease risks of stroke and high blood pressure
- Improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Provide sources of essential amino acids, including tryptophan
It helps to get deeper knowledge about these whey proteins because they may be able to supplement the nutrients that your body needs at this age. Learn more about whey proteins from Debra Atkinson, a fitness instructor and host of The Well U After 50 Podcasts, who also specializes in the field for 30 years. Discover more and educate yourself about proteins from her podcast below. (48.25 minutes)
Many people debate about “Protein timing”, or whether to consume protein before or after workout. The studies are 50/50 over this subject. Some say that it's good to have it before and others believe it's better to have it after the workout. A post about protein timing says the pre- and post-workout proteins both work well. Total protein intake matters more than the timing.
The most important thing to consider now is the quality of the powders that you choose. Get products that are made from grass-fed sources. Make sure that they are gluten-free, organic and non-GMO. Also look for hormone-free and non-denatured whey protein labels. You may also choose plant-based whey proteins.