When trying to gain muscle the first building block that people often think of is protein. Adequate protein intake is imperative for maintaining lean body mass during fat loss phases and increasing satiety. Many men usually don’t think twice about incorporating protein in their diet and generally enjoy eating it. On the other hand, women are less likely to incorporate protein in their diet and if so, don’t consume nearly as much as they should. Women are also more likely to be vegetarian and vegan. Although it is possible to lose fat or gain muscle on a plant based diet it’s also easy to underestimate your total protein consumption. However, the key point here is consuming enough protein is necessary regardless of your goals.
Studies have shown that a good protein benchmark for men and women should be 0.8 g/lb to 1.5 g/lb of bodyweight, with 1.0 g/lb being the average recommended protein intake. However, protein intake should increase when in a calorie deficit. It also increases as you become leaner and your activity levels increase. Additionally, when women are in a calorie deficit they’re more likely to cut calories too much and too fast, without increasing their protein intake and usually without incorporating weight training. This has the potential to make dieting unsustainable and can result in loss of lean body mass thus negatively impacting body composition. However, dieting in general can be a bit more complicated when it comes to women but when done so properly can yield impressive results. This includes, managing your calorie deficit, protein intake and training, as well as being conscious of your body’s response to stress and recovery.
Furthermore, in a gaining phase one could aim for protein intake of 0.8 g/lb of bodyweight to 1.0 g/lb. Meal timing is also something to consider in terms of making sure you’re getting enough protein during pre-workout, post-workout and before bedtime in order to maximize gains.
Finally, adequate protein intake is also something to consider since vegans and vegetarians are less likely to eat enough protein since plant proteins are not absorbed as easily as animal proteins. There have been studies on the myth of ‘incomplete’ proteins however, vegans and vegetarians are less likely to get adequate amounts of leucine, lysine and branch chain amino acids that are easily available from meat sources. However, isn’t that plant based diets cant provide adequate protein but that individuals need to make sure that they’re still hitting their protein targets through protein rich food sources while still keeping within their other macronutrient targets. Additionally, this is where protein supplementation may help since increasing protein when in a calorie deficit becomes difficult without increasing carbohydrates and fats. Although there are variances in individuals it is important to observe how responsive your body is to certain protein sources.
Entezarjou, A., Morales, A. E., Nuckols, G., A., Wheeler, E., C., & B. (2018, July 07). Plant Gains? Advice to the Vegetarian and Vegan Athlete. Retrieved from https://www.strongerbyscience.com/vegetarian-and-vegan-athlete/
McDonald, L. (2015, August 16). Protein Intake While Dieting – Q&A. Retrieved from https://bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/protein-intake-while-dieting-qa.html/
McDonald, L, (2017, October 31). Women Training and Fat Loss. Retrieved from https://bodyrecomposition.com/announcements/women-nutrition-fat-loss-teaser.html/
Trommelen, J., K., R., S., Nuckols, G., Anderson, S., . . . Carlos Ramos. (2017, July 17). Perfecting Protein Intake in Athletes: How Much, What, and When? Retrieved from https://www.strongerbyscience.com/athlete-protein-intake/