By Emma Campbell
There are a few different stereotypes when it comes to protein intake and diets, especially when it comes to women’s fitness and health. The usual stereotypical image is that of protein pumped men, taking their shakes to create a bulky figures and to aid them in becoming super muscle-clad gym stars.
Women have a tendency to be really aware of our fitness levels, body shapes and weight, which encourages us to try and eat healthily. However, those ‘good’ days of chicken salads in Tupperware boxes followed by drinking green tea and snacking on nuts can be followed with sugar cravings and cheat meals – which for women, usually includes sweet desserts and high sugar fast food meals, all in which lack protein.
Below, I have highlighted the three myths women hear about protein, and uncover the truth:
Myth #1: Protein makes you bulk up
Protein makes you stronger, and it should be associated with powerful, lean muscle gains. If you work out correctly and incorporate the right amount of protein in your diet, it won’t bring you a masculine physique. Forget about it making you look “overly ripped” – your body contains just a fraction of the testosterone needed to build up lean muscle tissue. When you add more protein to your diet, you’re not going to pack on muscle the same way a man will, because the male body works a lot differently.
Protein helps with power, recovery and growth which is crucial for your body whilst working out – so ladies, don’t worry! It is essential for tissue growth and repair, so for active women attending fitness classes, treadmill runs or lifting the weights at the gym on a weekly basis, your body isn’t going to be able to recover and grow effectively without protein.
Myth #2: A Protein filled diet means only protein shakes
If you are going to be taking your fitness and body health seriously – including regular workouts, yes a protein shake is beneficial. It will ensure quality protein gets into your body quickly for effectiveness. However, it’s fine for women to have these every now and again after a training; it doesn’t mean you need to be ‘shaking it up’ morning noon and night! You did realise delicious nut butters have protein in?! In terms of meals…
Foods rich in protein include:
✓ Lean red meat
✓ Soy, tofu, beans, grains
✓ Eggs and low-fat dairy products – all of which can be incorporated into lunches and dinners on a daily basis.
Myth #3: Multivitamins provide enough. I don’t need extra protein!
Whilst multivitamins provide an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for skin, hair, nails and overall health, they don’t work magic on their own.
Yes, taking with a balanced diet will encourage all aspects of women’s health and beauty, but did you know that your hair is mainly made up of protein, and those who lack in protein diets usually suffer from dull, lack lustre and slow growing hair?
A diet rich in protein alongside a multivitamin and a balanced diet will encourage healthier hair growth, and after all, us ladies want nothing more than thicker, healthier hair.
Get creative with protein!
So now the myths are busted, you may want to know some tips and tricks that I currently employ daily to ensure I enjoy protein the way I like it. In general I prefer to mix it up a little, so check out my tips for how us ladies can enjoy protein in the most varied way.
1) Spice up your meals
The first one is simple, if you eat meat, then get creative with chicken and fish by working up some tasty curries. These don’t have to be unhealthy – I regularly make a chicken green Thai curry with brown rice a
nd veggies as an evening meal. Low fat coconut milk goes into the sauce, and you can throw in any veg you like. The more colourful the better! My personal choice is yellow peppers and mange tout.
2) Healthy protein desserts
For those days where I just want carbs and desserts (because let’s face it, this happens a lot,) I try and home bake an alternative. I use oats, bananas, Peanut Butter, Coconut oil and Natural nuts to bake a sugar free, healthy flapjack. It’s so simple – you just mix them all together and bake for 25 minutes. I spread the smooth Myprotein Peanut Butter on the odd slice when I want an extra boost of nuts, and it’s absolutely delicious!
3) Smoothies & shakes
Choose your favourite flavour of whey protein powder and try mixing it up into shakes using different milk varieties. I find mixing up flavours such as salted caramel and banana with almond milk or sweetened soya milk tastes just as good as those naughty milkshakes you get from fast food outlets! They are a brilliant way of getting an intense boost of protein into your diet, but enjoying it in what feels like a ‘bad’ way, when really it isn’t.
Take Home Message
I hope this article has opened up your eyes to the myths and stereotypes of Protein within diets and fitness, and inspires some of the ladies out there to work it into your diets without being so strict on yourselves.