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Protein Power-Up: The Mighty Macronutrient Making Waves in Women's Wellness

Protein Power-Up: The Mighty Macronutrient Making Waves in Women's Wellness

An underrated macronutrient: protein. It’s time that we give protein the spotlight it deserves, especially if you are a woman reading this blog.  Now, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is .8 grams of protein per kilogram. Put simply, this is the amount determined by the Food and Nutrition Boards that is needed to be adequate and not malnourished. As a dietitian who works to optimize your metabolism, I like to think of thriving vs surviving. So if you want to thrive, protein intake should be closer to around .8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. 

Do the math real quick. Are you meeting this amount or do you have room for improvement? Most women (and men) that I meet with are substantially under-eating protein on a daily basis.

A day of meals typically look a little like this: 

  • Coffee + Creamer 
  • Breakfast: Granola bar (or its commonly skipped)
  • Coffee + Creamer
  • Snack: Banana 
  • Coffee + Creamer 
  • Lunch: Salad 
  • Dinner: Spaghetti
  • Snack: Popcorn
  • Snack: Dark Chocolate 

Now there are a few things I would adjust just looking at this (an actual day of eats from a previous client) one is that it’s low in food overall but it’s definitely low in protein. If you want to optimize your metabolism, then protein will be key. 

To break down protein even further, protein is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are needed from the foods we eat while nonessential amino acids our body can make on its own. Neat right?   

Leucine is the MVP if you are looking to build muscle - and not in a manly, bodybuilder type of way. To build muscle, we must stimulate muscle protein synthesis which is just the fancy way of saying the process of building new muscle. Where leucine comes in is that it activates this process. The best way to get this leucine in is to consume adequate amounts of complete proteins like animal protein at each meal. 

Not only does muscle look good, but there are also health benefits to it as well.

Benefits of protein include:

  • Increased feelings of fullness 
  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Increased strength
  • Tissue repair 
  • Immune support 
  • Less risk of injury 
  • Helps to aid in weight loss
  • Enzyme activity support
  • Production of hormones 
  • Transporting oxygen (your hemoglobin) 

As a busy professional, I know protein can be the hardest macronutrient to get in at each meal so these are some of my ways to increase protein at a meal: 

  • Crockpot chicken
  • Turkey burger patties 
  • Crockpot pork loin
  • Turkey bacon 
  • Hard-boiled eggs 
  • Chicken sausage 
  • Tuna packs
  • Frozen salmon filets
  • Tofu 
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas 
  • Egg white wraps 
  • Beef/Turkey Sticks 
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese 
  • Chickpea pasta 
  • Edamame 
  • Nutritional yeast 
  • Protein pancakes 
  • Protein bars - my favorite is Aloha
  • Roasted Purpose collagen coffee (code NUCREWNUTRITION for 10% off)

Start small with changes to boost your protein intake and see the difference in your hunger levels, energy levels, and workout recovery. Begin with one meal, making simple swaps like with your yogurt or adding an egg to breakfast. 

As a dietitian, it is my job to help you create balanced meals that help you reach your goals while not missing out on life. This is just the start! If you’re interested in working with me, my office is in O’fallon, MO off Hwy K and I take insurance! More information can be found here or you can stay in touch with me on Instagram and Facebook.  


Baylee Reller, MCN, RDN, LD

Registered Dietitian